The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday accused the trust set up to build a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya of financial corruption worth crores of rupees in the purchase of a piece of land for the temple project.
They demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.
Holding separate press conferences, former SP MLA from Ayodhya Pawan Pandey and AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh alleged that the land, valued at ₹5.8 crore had been purchased and registered by two local businessmen for ₹2 crore on March 18 at around 7.10 p.m., but within 5-10 minutes of that, the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra purchased the land for an appreciated rate of ₹18.5 crore.
The two leaders further alleged that both the land agreements, which took place barely 5-10 minutes apart of each other, had common witnesses — Ayodhya Mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay and trust member Anil Mishra.
Mr. Singh said that the land had been purchased by two businessmen, Sultan Ansari and Ravi Mohan Tiwari, from Kusum Pathak and Harish Pathak, for ₹2 crore, which was done through a registered agreement at 7.10 pm. Barely 5-10 minutes later, the same land was sold by Mr. Ansari and Mr. Tiwari to the Trust for a much higher rate of ₹18.5 crore, Mr. Singh alleged. Out of this, ₹17 crore was paid through the RTGS mode, he further alleged.
How could the value of the land appreciate so quickly within five minutes, both Opposition leaders asked, demanding a probe.
“It is a case of money laundering and corruption,” Mr. Singh said. “I feel those crores of [Ram] bhakt s, who donated money in the name of a grand temple for Lord Ram would have their feelings hurt.”
Mr. Pandey accused the Trust of cheating Ram bhakt s. “This was a loot in the name of land,” he said in Ayodhya, asking the Trust to explain the deals.
Issuing a clarification over the allegations, Champat Rai, general secretary of the Trust, in a statement said the allegations were "misleading" and were made to "mislead the society."
"The concerned people are political and are motivated by politcal grudge," said Mr. Rai. Referring to the concerned land, he said the present sellers on March 18 got a sale deed of the land (bainama) at the value at which they had got the registered agreement done years ago.
After this, they signed an agreement with the Trust, he said. The land mentioned is prime property near the railway station, Mr. Rai further said, adding that all the land purchased by the Trust so far has been at a rate much lower than the free market. He, however, also mentioned that land rates had suddenly gone up in Ayodhya due to the purchase of land done by the UP government for overall development of Ayodhya.
Ayodhya Mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay did not respond to phone calls.