The Congress on Monday sought a Supreme Court-monitored probe into allegations of irregularity in the purchase of land at Ayodhya by the Ram temple trust.
Addressing a virtual press conference, Congress general secretary and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala called the land purchase a “big scam” that used funds collected from devotees and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to answer whether those behind the land deals had his protection.
“The Chief Justice and the Supreme Court must take cognisance of the matter and order a court-monitored probe into the charges,” Mr. Surjewala said. The top court should also get an audit done for all the donations and funds received and spent by the trust for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, he said.
Since the trust was set up on the directions of the Supreme Court, the court should also carry out a probe on the assessment value of all land purchased by the trust from donations and make it public in the traditions of idealism of Lord Ram, Mr. Surjewala said.
He, however, clarified that the construction work on the proposed Ram temple was going on in full swing and the Congress did not want the work to be stopped.
“Shri Ram himself is justice, truth and religion/righteousness. Cheating in his name is unrighteousness,” tweeted former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in Hindi with the hash tag #RamMandir scam.
Mr. Surjewala alleged that the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust had purchased “12,080 square metres of land” at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh at an inflated price of ₹18.5 crore.
On March 18, he claimed, the said land was purchased by the temple’s trust at ₹18.5 crore from Ravi Tiwari and Sultan Ansari but records of land deeds showed that the same plot was sold to them by Kusum Pathak for ₹2 crore. And that too on the same day and barely five minutes before the transaction with the temple trust took place.
The Congress spokesperson claimed that trust members and BJP leader Anil Mishra, and Hrishikesh Upadhyay, a former Mayor of Ayodhya, were signatories to the ₹18.5-crore land deal as per the land deeds. He asserted that the facts pointed to a “big scam” in funds collected from devotees and this amounted to committing a big sin and wrongdoing.
“Will the Prime Minister answer if those sinners, who have traded the faith of Lord Ram’s devotees, have his protection,” he asked.
“How could BJP leaders commit such a big malpractice in the name of Lord Ram whose words, values and ethical conduct are sworn as ideals. How much more land has been purchased in such a manner at throwaway rates out of funds received for the temple’s construction,” asked Mr. Surjewala.