Big B buys land for 'Aishwarya' girls' school | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Big B buys land for 'Aishwarya' girls' school

IANS | BySharat Pradhan, Barabanki
Jan 24, 2008 06:11 PM IST

The superstar seems to be giving a new twist to his intention of buying land after the court decided to condone the alleged fraud through which 2.5 bighas of Govt land was allotted to him.

Film actor Amitabh Bachchan's urge to acquire farmland in this district could surely give script writers some ideas for a Bollywood movie.

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The superstar seems to be giving a new twist to his intention of buying land after the Allahabad High Court decided to condone the alleged fraud and forgery through which 2.5 bighas (about 70,000 sq ft) of government land was allotted to him during the Mulayam Singh Yadav regime. The court had cancelled that allotment last year.

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Now the superstar has bought some land from private farmers in the district's Daulatpur village, about 40 km from state capital Lucknow, on which he is setting up a high school for girls.

Bachchan professes that his sole intention in buying land was to build an educational institution. On Jan 27, he is to lay the foundation stone for the school to be named after his glamorous daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai.

Hectic preparations are on at the 10-bigha plot that Big B recently purchased from different farmers in Daulatpur village to build what has been christened the 'Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Girls Intermediate College', a school for higher secondary students.

The actor has never explained what attracted him to Barabanki - a place with which he does not have even a remote connection.

Why Bachchan changed his original plan of naming the school after his eminent poet father, the late Harivansh Rai Bachchan, is not known either.

"The school would be a boon for all the girls in this area who cannot traverse some 40-45 km to the nearest existing girls' school," says local village head Raj Kumari Devi, who is as excited as the youth in the village over the prospect of meeting the entire Bachchan family.

Amitabh is to be accompanied by wife Jaya, son Abhishek and Aishwarya. To add political spice to the show, there will be Bachchan family friend Amar Singh, the Samajwadi Party general secretary who was instrumental in getting Bachchan the earlier government land allotment in violation of laws.

Amar Singh is understood to be trying to ensure the participation of Samajwadi Party chief and former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, besides three former chief ministers - Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), Farooq Abdullah (Jammu and Kashmir) and Om Prakash Chautala (Haryana). They are all members of what is known as the third front, the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA).

In an affidavit sworn before the high court that condoned Bachchan last month of forgery on the ground that he "was not involved in it", Bachchan had stated: "I purchased equivalent land in the same village and offered to donate it for construction of a school; why would I do that if I had any intention to usurp government land by fraudulent means?"

Replying to the state government's charges, the actor further argued: "So what if I am a non-resident of the village or even if my ancestors had not lived there? After all, there is no law to bar a non-resident to acquire land in a UP village."

According to the Uttar Pradesh government chief standing counsel Devendra Upadhaya, who argued the case against Bachchan: "The observation of the high court clearly showed that even the judge did not dispute the fact that some fraud or forgery was committed; but he felt that the surreptitious entry was not manipulated by Bachchan or carried out at his behest."

It looks as though Bachchan's idea behind the allotment was to safeguard the purchase of a huge 6-hectare farm in Pune district of Maharastra, where land revenue laws do not permit ownership of agricultural property by anyone other than a "farmer".

An obliging Uttar Pradesh administration under Mulayam Singh Yadav favoured Bachchan with a land record entry to give him the status of a "farmer". A certificate was promptly issued, allegedly under directions of Amar Singh. Later, on inquiry initiated by the Maharastra administration, Uttar Pradesh officials found the entry had been forged.

With his claim to the Pune farmland nearly forfeited, the mega star is apparently trying to prove that his only intent in acquiring land in Barabanki was to do start the girls' school.

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