The Baghpat administration on Monday started a probe into alleged illegal grabbing of government and private land to expand the ashram of Dera Sacha Sauda, currently spread over 200 acres, at the district’s Barnawa village. A team of officials from revenue and forest departments started measuring the land at the ashram while matching the same with revenue records. This comes a day after the probe team was set up following directives by the Baghpat district magistrate.
The chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was on Monday sent to jail for 20 years for the rape of two women. The ashram, started in 1986, is near the Barnawa forest in Bijauli. It comprises double-storey buildings, including residences and guesthouses, cowshed and farming land.
Baraut Sub-Divisional Magistrate Arvind Kumar Dwivedi, who heads the team, said the decision to conduct a probe was taken following inputs that revenue, forest and private land have been grabbed to expand the ashram. “No one has lodged any written complaint seeking an inquiry into the land acquired by the ashram. The DM has taken suo moto cognizance and ordered a probe. A team comprising officials of chakbandi (revenue department) and forest has been formed to probe and prepare a report by going through the revenue records and measuring the land area at the ashram,” he added.
Baghpat Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Arun Kumar said department officials have been assigned to assist the district administration in the inquiry. Action will be decided on the basis of the report, he added. When contacted, Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar said the government has not issued any directive to probe the status of the ashram land. “This is an initiative of the district administration,” he added.
On Saturday, Baghpat DM Bhawani Singh Khangarot had inspected the ashram and met the Dera chief’s followers staying there. Nothing suspicious was found inside the ashram during the inspection, said officials. “It has been alleged that forest and gram sabha land have been grabbed by the ashram of Dera Sacha Sauda. However, no written complaint has been received from any person… The Badaut sub-divisional magistrate has been asked to conduct a probe and submit the report soon,” the DM said.