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Ayodhya land deals: Congress asks SC to probe ‘loot’, BSP says cancel sale

The investigation by The Indian Express of land records has found that at least 15 buyers of land parcels in Ayodhya included local MLAs, close relatives of bureaucrats who have or are serving in Ayodhya.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
Updated: December 24, 2021 3:02:38 am
BSP chief Mayawati (File Photo)

Senior Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi on Thursday said the probe ordered by the Uttar Pradesh government into land transactions in Ayodhya was inadequate and that the Supreme Court should investigate the “loot”.

The Yogi Adityanath government ordered the probe on Wednesday, the same day as The Indian Express reported how elected public representatives and relatives of state government officials had bought land parcels in Ayodhya since the November 9, 2019, Supreme Court verdict clearing construction of a temple at the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi site.

Addressing a press conference with Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala at the AICC headquarters, Vadra said: “Uttar Pradesh said yesterday that they are ordering a probe. Who is conducting the probe? A district-level officer… Now you have the Mayor as a witness on a sale deed… Obviously, you are not expecting an inquiry to take place… A district-level officer cannot hold an inquiry against a mayor. The Ram Mandir Trust was set up on the basis of the orders of the Supreme Court. So, this investigation should be conducted through the Supreme Court.”

Accusing the Trust of buying land at inflated rates, and BJP, RSS leaders and government officials of “misusing” the money collected by it, Vadra said a “loot” was on near the Ram temple. “BJP leaders, office-bearers and officials of the Yogi Adityanath government are involved in this loot… Nobody knows how much land is there or how many crores worth of scam is taking place.”

Speaking to reporters in Lucknow, BSP president Mayawati also demanded that the Supreme Court intervene in the matter. She asked the Centre to direct the state government to cancel the land deals.

Mentioning a specific case, Vadra, the Congress general secretary in-charge of UP, said: “There is a clear transaction here where a piece of land which was sold in 2017 to a certain person was then sold by that person in two parts. The first part, which was 10,000 sq m, was sold directly to the Ram Mandir trust for Rs 8 crore. The second part which was 12,000 sq m, 19 minutes later — we are talking about the same piece of land — (was sold) to a certain Ravi Mohan Tewari for Rs 2 crore. So you have a piece of land, half of it goes for Rs 8 crore and the other half — slightly more than the (first) half — goes for Rs 2 crore, at the same time… Five minutes later, this Mr Ravi Mohan Tewari sells that Rs 2 crore piece of land… for Rs 18.5 crore to the Trust.”

The witnesses on these sale deeds, Vadra said, were Ayodhya Mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay and Anil Mishra, a member of the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust.

The same allegation had been earlier made by Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh at a press conference in Lucknow in June, and by SP leader Pawan Pandey at a press meet in Ayodhya.

Giving more details, Surjewala said: “On November 15, 2017, 2.3 hectare land was sold at Rs 2 crore. An FIR was lodged on this on November 22, 2018, that this land cannot be sold because this land is not private… On March 18, 2021, a part of this land, around 10,370 sq m, was sold for Rs 8 crore to the Ram Mandir Trust… The land was bought by Champat Rai on behalf of the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust. On this sale deed, there are signatures of Upadhyay and Mishra. And on the same day, at 7.10 pm… the second part, 12,080 sq m… was bought by Ravi Mohan Tewari for just Rs 2 crore… And after five minutes, 7.15 pm, the Rs 2 crore land is sold to the Ram Temple Trust at Rs 18.5 crore. And the signatures of Rai, Upadhyay and Mishra are there.”

Vadra said the Supreme Court should take up the matter also because the faith of millions is involved, and because “millions of people, not necessarily well-off but poor, have given savings to this trust”.

Drawing a parallel with the inquiry into the Lakhimpur Kheri incident where farmers were killed, Vadra said: “Here is the son of a minister who has committed a heinous act, and you are ordering an inquiry with the minister still in his seat, and he is no less than the Minister of State (Home). The same thing we are saying here… Who are you trying to fool?”

–with inputs from ENS, Lucknow

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