The allegations of the scam have surfaced against the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra better known as the Ram Mandir Trust which was set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in February 2020 to oversee and manage the construction of the Ram Mandir, based on a Supreme Court verdict. The trust was awarded about 70 acres of land in the ruling and 12 of its 15 members are nominated by the Centre.
The charge: As per the opposition, Sultan Ansari bought land valued at Rs 5.7 crores from Kusum Pathak for Rs 2 crores. Then Ram Mandir Trust bought the same land from Ansari five minutes after he bought it from Kusum for Rs 18.5 crores.
On Sunday, 18th June, the opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Tej Narayan Pandey in a press conference and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh through Twitter accused the Ram Mandir Trust of pulling off an illicit land deal in Ayodhya.
The opposition leaders say that the transaction involved two real estate dealers who purchased a property from an individual for ₹ 2 crore and only minutes later, sold it to the Trust for ₹ 18.5 crore.
Another Samajwadi Party MLA and Uttar Pradesh minister Pawan Pandey held a press conference in Ayodhya on 18th June, where he accused the trust that the fraudulent land deal was made possible with the help of local BJP leaders and some Trust members.
“What gold did this property throw up in a matter of minutes that its price went from Rs 2 crores to Rs 18 crores-plus in a matter of minutes? This means loot to the tune of Rs 16.5 crores has taken place. There should be a CBI inquiry,” the SP leader said.
The SP leader backed his charges with the documents, i.e. the stamp duty papers of both transactions. He charged that a property located next to the Ram Janmabhoomi site was traded at a multi-fold markup. He also claimed that Rs 17 crore was sent to the bank account of Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari through RTGS mode of payment.
“Crores of people gave donations to the Ram Temple Trust. They dug into their savings to donate. If this is what you do to their money, then this is an insult to the 120 crore people of the country,” charged Pandey.
Responding to the allegations, Secretary of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra, Champat Rai called the allegations misleading and politically motivated. “Allegations (of fraud) are misleading and motivated by political hatred. All lands that Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra has purchased so far have been bought at a price much less than the open market price,” he said.
He further said, “After the Supreme Court’s decision on Shri Ram Janmabhoomi on 9 November 2019, innumerable people from across the country started coming to Ayodhya to buy land. Land prices have increased. The plot on which newspaper discussion is being conducted is a very prominent place near the railway station.”
However, the AAP leader Sanjay Singh took to Twitter and wrote in Hindi, “The trust said “the land is expensive there” The lie was caught, the value of the land is 5 crore 80 lakhs. This land gets sold to Sultan Ansari and Ravi Mohan Tiwari for 2 crores, and then after 5 minutes why the trust purchased it for 18.5 crores? How can the land price increase 5.50 lakh per second? #RamMandirScam”
He also shared the photo of the consent letter and stamp duty papers of both the deals.
In another tweet, Sanjay Singh wrote “Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari bought land worth 2 crores at 7:10 PM. At 7:15 PM, Champat Rai of Ram Janmabhoomi Trust bought this land from them for 18.5 crores. Have you seen land becoming costlier by Rs 5.50 lakh per second anywhere in the world?
Sanjay Singh also called a press conference, “No one can even imagine there will be corruption in the name of Lord Ram. But these documents show that crores of rupees have been embezzled.”
Champat Rai in the defence also said that the buying and selling of the land are being done on the basis of mutual dialogue and consent. “After taking consent, the consent form is signed. All types of court fees and stamp papers are being purchased online. The purchase of land is being done on the basis of the consent letter, accordingly, the entire value is transferred online to the seller’s account,” he said.
“Some political leaders are misleading people. It is meant to mislead society, the people concerned are political and hence motivated by political hatred,” Rai claimed.
The Ram temple in Ayodhya has often been a sensitive issue in Uttar Pradesh’s politics. The state elections are expected to be held in early 2022 and this allegation of fraud can seriously affect the public opinion regarding the government in UP.
In the past week, hectic political activities are being seen in which the UP state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been pitted against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.