Official records show that the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust purchased two parcels of prime land — 1.208 hectares and 1.037 hectares — in Ayodhya on the same day i.e. March 18, 2021, at two different prices of Rs 18.5 crore and Rs 8 crore, respectively, from two different buyers (1 hectare = 10,000 sq m).
Both the land parcels belonged to Harish Pathak and Kusum Pathak with a sale deed registered in their names in November 2017.
On March 18, the Trust purchased the larger plot, 1.208 hectares, for Rs 18.5 crore from Sultan Ansari and property dealer Ravi Mohan Tiwari, who in turn had purchased it from the Pathaks for Rs 2 crore. This deal had landed in a controversy with Samajwadi Party and Aam Aadmi Party alleging ‘corruption and fraud’. The Trust, however, denied it.
What has now come to light is that the same day, the Trust purchased another parcel, 1.037 hectares, directly from Harish Pathak and Kusum Pathak for Rs 8 crore.
The Indian Express verified this from the documents available on the Integrated Grievance Redressal System – Uttar Pradesh (IGRS-UP) website which show that these two parcels make up the entire land collectively identified by Gata Numbers 242, 243, 244 and 246, and are part of the agreement signed in September 2019 between Harish Pathak and Kusum Pathak and nine other persons including Sultan Ansari. The consideration amount for this was fixed at Rs 2 crore.
The 1.208 hectares parcel is identified by Gata Numbers 243, 244 and 246. The 1.037 hectares parcel of land is identified by Gata Number 242. On May 11, the Trust gave 695.678 square metre land from Gata Number 242 to Yashoda Nandan Tripathi and Kaushal Kishore Tripathi of Kaushilya Bhawan free of cost.
As is the practice, on March 18 this year, the agreement signed in September 2019 was cancelled. The land parcel of 1.208 hectares of land was sold to Ansari and Tiwari for Rs 2 crore, and purchased by the Trust for Rs 18.5 crore. This is double the rate in Rs/ sq m the Trust paid to the Pathaks for the 1.037 hectares parcel sold again on March 18.
In all three sale deeds, the witnesses were Trust member Anil Mishra and Ayodhya Mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay.
A government official confirmed that Pathak had sold a land parcel directly to the Trust. He said, once the 2019 agreement was cancelled, Kusum and Harish Pathak were technically free to sell the land directly to the Trust.
Earlier on Tuesday, in a detailed statement, the Trust had noted that the said plot was prime land as it was adjacent to a road, which in the near future would be four laned, and the main approaching road to Ram Janmbhoomi Mandir. Bought at Rs 1,423 per square feet, the Trust said the price was much much less than the actual market rate in Ayodhya.
The circle rate of the property purchased by the Trust from Ansari and Tiwari is around Rs 5.80 crore. Ayodhya Sadar Sub-Registrar said the circle rate hasn’t been increased since 2017. Data provided by the Registrar office also showed an increase in land purchase in the area. While there were 7,126 such documents registered in 2019-20, at least 8,603 such documents were registered in 2020-21.
Land in Ayodhya, given the temple project, is now prime real estate. Given the volume of transactions, the spotlight will be trained on acquisitions and purchases by the trust, state government and corporates.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Trust said for the same land, agreements were made between different parties at many times starting since 2011 but due to some reasons they never matured. The Trust was interested to purchase this land but wanted first to finalise all the previous agreements so that ownership of the land may be cleared.
“As and when the previous agreements finalised, the Trust made the agreement with final owners of the land with immediate effect without losing any time. It was done quickly but in a transparent manner,” the Trust said.
Giving the history of the said piece of land, the Trust said that on March 3 in 2011 brothers Mehfooz Alam, Javed Alam, Noor Alam, Firoz Alam, entered into an agreement with Kusum Pathak, Harish Pathak and Sultan Ansari’s father Nanhe Miyan to sell Gata Numbers 242, 243, 244 and 246. The consideration amount agreed was Rs 1 crore and the agreement was valid for three years.
Later in November 2017, the Alam brothers registered a sale deed to Kusum Pathak and her husband Harish Pathak for the entire land, and this made Pathak the owners of the land for a consideration amount of Rs 2 crores.
The next day Kusum Pathak and Harish Pathak entered into an agreement to sell above 4 Gatas to Ichchha Ram Singh, Jitendra Kumar Singh and Rakesh Kumar Singh. The consideration amount was Rs 2.16 crores. This agreement was cancelled on September 17 in 2019 and another agreement was entered upon by Kusum Pathak and Harish Pathak to sell above mentioned land to Nanhe Miyan’s son Sultan Ansari, one Ichchha Ram Singh, and seven others. The consideration amount was Rs 2 crores.
Finally on March 18 this year, the agreement was registered to be cancelled.
On this date, Kusum Pathak and Harish Pathak sold land Gata number 243, 244 and 246 area 1.208 hectares by sale deed to Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari. The consideration amount was Rs 2 crores, while stamp duty was paid at the circle rate valuation of Rs 5.80 crores. On the same day, Tiwari and Sultan Ansari entered into an agreement to sell this land to the Trust for Rs 18.5 crore.
The statement from the Trust, however, did not inform what happened to Gata Number 242, which was also part of all the concerned agreements signed over the last 10 years.
Despite several attempts, Trust General Secretary Champat Rai could not be reached for a comment. The Indian Express also made attempts to reach Harish Pathak, Sultan Ansari and Ravi Mohan Tiwari but they were not available for a comment.
Earlier, Ansari had told reporters that back in 2011 when the agreement was signed for Rs 1 crore consideration amount, Rs 10 lakh was paid as advance. In 2017, when Alam brothers registered the sale deed, it was to Kusum Pathak and her husband Harish Pathak, while Nanhe Miyan was a witness. When the agreement was confirmed for Rs 2 crore, Rs 50 lakh was given as advance, he said.
On Sunday, Tiwari said the agreement for the land purchased by the Trust from him was made with Pathak several years ago for Rs 2 crore, and its value had increased significantly after the Supreme Court decision.
“While I purchased the land for Rs 2 crore as per my agreement, the actual price of the land must be more than Rs 20 crore now, but I sold it for just Rs 18.5 crore because it is for a project concerned with our faith,” he said.
Family members of both Ansari and Tiwari confirmed that both of them were known to Harish Pathak for a long time and were business partners for over a decade.
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