Ayodhya Trust secretary says land deal was transparent

A land deal that has evoked allegations of a scam was carried out in a transparent manner and followed a certain protocol, the Ayodhya temple Trust said Monday. Two opposition parties of Uttar Pradesh has Sunday accused it of pulling off an illicit transaction in the temple town.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Champat Rai, Secretary of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra defended the transaction Monday, explaining it in a series of tweets.

“The Trust carried out all transactions in a transparent manner and all payments were sent directly to bank accounts as part of a fixed protocol for all such acquisitions,” Mr Rai said in his tweets.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), in separate press conferences, had claimed that two real estate dealers had allegedly purchased a property from an individual for Rs 2 crore and sold it — within minutes — to the Trust for Rs 18.5 crore.

In a late-night statement issued on Twitter on Monday,  Rai had said that the allegations were “influenced by politics and misguided”. The allegations were significant as the Ram temple in Ayodhya is an emotive issue in Uttar Pradesh, where elections are due next year.

“Temples along the Ram Mandir complex’s retaining wall are being acquired by the Trust. It has decided that any person or institution being displaced by this acquisition will be rehabilitated,” Rai tweeted.

“The 12,080 square metre land (of the said deal) has been purchased by the Trust for this purpose,” he wrote, saying it was prime property and located on a road close to the Ayodhya Railway Station.

The present sellers of the land — the property dealers — have had previous agreements with the owners in 2011, 2017, and 2019, according to Rai.

Enquiries by the Trust revealed that the property dealers were offering it at ₹ 1,423 per square foot, much less than the market rate.

“Following an agreement on the price, the sellers were asked to fullfil any earlier obligations they had on the land,” he wrote.