Stating that the news of the alleged embezzlement of donations collected for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya has shaken the faith of people, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday demanded that the Centre should investigate the matter and punish the guilty.
In a series of tweets, Mr Gehlot stated that the people of Rajasthan had contributed the most to the construction of the temple, and devotees across the country are deeply hurt by the “financial manipulation by the trust” formed for its construction.
“The people of Rajasthan had contributed the most in the construction of Ram temple with faith, but the news of embezzlement of donations at the very beginning of the construction work has shaken the faith of the common man. No one is able to believe how the land price went from Rs 2 crore to Rs 18 crore in minutes,” tweeted the Rajasthan Chief Minister.
He further said, “Pink stone was being sent to Ram temple after illegal mining from Banshi Paharpur in the state. Received legality in a legal way, which we are satisfied with.”
“But in this holy work, devotees across the country are deeply hurt by the immoral activities of financial manipulation by the trust formed for the construction of the temple. No one could have imagined that even in a holy work like temple construction, people would start committing scams,” said Mr Gehlot in another tweet.
“The central government should immediately get this matter investigated so that the faith and trust of the people are maintained and the culprits of playing with the faith of the countrymen can be punished,” he added.
Mr Gehlot’s remarks came a day after the Congress demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the matter of alleged irregularity in the purchase of land at Ayodhya by the Ram temple trust.
Addressing a virtual press conference, Congress general secretary and party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Monday called the alleged irregularity in the purchase of land a “big scam” and said because “the trust was established on the direction of the Supreme Court, the court should take cognisance of the issue and investigate the matter.”
“The amount received as donations and expenses made by the trust should also be audited under the supervision of the Supreme Court,” he added.
However, he added that Congress does not want construction work of the proposed Ram temple to be halted.
Controversy erupted after Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Tej Narayan Pandey on Sunday accused Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust of committing corruption in a land deal and sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the matter.
Holding a press conference on Sunday, Mr Pandey said, “The piece of land was earlier purchased for Rs 2 crore by Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari. Ten minutes later, the Trust bought the land for Rs 18.5 crores on March 18.”
The SP leader also claimed that Rs 17 crore was sent to the bank account of Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari through RTGS mode of payment and demanded a probe into the RTGS money transfer.
Following SP, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh, also made similar allegations.
Refuting the allegations of fraud in purchasing land worth at an inflated price for the Ram temple premises, Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust general secretary Champat Rai termed the charges as “misleading and motivated by political hatred”.
In February 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the constitution of “Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Trust” which would oversee the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, nearly three months after the Supreme Court ruling in the decades-old case.
In November 2019, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had ruled unanimously in favour of Ram Lalla. It said the entire disputed land spread over 2.7-acre will be handed over to a trust formed by the government, which will monitor the construction of the Ram temple at the site. The court had asked the government to give 5 acres of land to Sunni Waqf Board in Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque.