Updated: March 6, 2021 6:19:00 pm
One of Pune’s most luxe destinations, the Osho International Meditation Resort, is at the centre of a controversy triggered by the sale of a part of its property.
Citing “financial distress” induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Zurich-based Osho International Foundation, which owns the sprawling Osho Commune in the Koregaon Park area of the city, is seeking to sell two plots in the resort for Rs 107 crore.
The commune, the headquarters of the global sect established by Osho Rajneesh, had in March last year suspended its meditation activities, which drew the rich and the famous from around the world.
The Foundation has decided to sell the two plots, each about 1.5 acres and which currently house a swimming pool and a tennis court, to Rajiv Bajaj, MD and CEO of Bajaj Auto, who lives on an adjacent plot.
Since the OIF is a charitable trust, it filed an application before the office of the Charity Commissioner in Mumbai in January this year, seeking permission for the sale of the two plots.
However, a group of Osho disciples, who call themselves the Osho Friends’ Foundation, has now objected to the sale, and the Charity Commissioner has accepted the group as an ‘intervenor’ in the case.
“According to the application filed by OIF before the Charity Commissioner, it is selling a part of the commune property for Rs 107 crore to neighbours Rajivnayan Rahulkumar Bajaj.
An earnest money of Rs 50 crore has already been paid to the commune,” said Yogesh Thakkar of the Osho Friends’ Foundation (OFF).
“The Charity Commissioner’s office has agreed to hear us on March 15,” he added.
The OIF, in its application seeking permission for the sale, has said that it was in financial distress. “Looking at the present situation in India and around the world, and uncertainty about continuation of Covid-19 effect, it would not be possible to restart the meditation activities in the near future. This has severely affected the cash flow of the trust leading to dire need of fund to meet its financial obligations,” it said.
“The cash flow situation caused on account of COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a situation whereby the trust will not have any income for a long period of time but there will be fixed costs for maintaining the premises and properties of the trust,” it added.
The application has also mentioned that it had received three bids for the sale — from Atul Ishwardas Chordia, chairman of the city-based Panchshil Realty, for Rs 90 crore; from A2Z Online Services Pvt Ltd for Rs 85.5 crore; and from Rajiv Bajaj’s family for Rs 107 crore.
“We have unanimously resolved to alienate the rights in the property and enter into an MoU with Rajivnayan Bajaj who has paid an earnest money of Rs 50 crore,” OIF’s application said.
Thakkar called the reasons for the sale “bogus”. “The OIF has made the application on bogus grounds that due to the Covid pandemic, they need maintenance money for the commune. So on one hand OIF has closed the doors of Osho commune on all of us and on the other, they want to sell the commune’s property which has been developed by thousands of Osho disciples in the presence of our Guru Osho,” he said.
“If they cannot manage the commune efficiently by utilising their resources creatively, then it is time for them to go and let other people run the place. This place is made by Osho devotees for Osho devotees, and it belongs to Osho devotees,” he said.
Thakkar said they would seek the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Uddhav Thackerey to prevent the sale.
Swami Chaitanya Keerti, a long-time disciple who left the commune in 2000, alleged that a “group of foreigners” had taken control of the Osho ashram in Pune.
“It has come to our notice that the group in Pune, controlled by a Zurich-based entity, had filed for permission to sell a prime property of the ashram to a prominent industrial group in the vicinity of the ashram. This was opposed by long-time sanyasins of Osho, Prem Geet, and Prem Anadi among others, who have been resisting similar earlier attempts by the OIF Pune (licensee of OIF based in Zurich) to sell properties of the ashram,” he said.
When contacted, commune spokesperson Maa Amrit Sadhana, said, “The matter is subjudice, we cannot comment on it.”
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