Saturday, December 30, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Minister, brother’s houses on dera land
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Dec 29 — The construction of a palatial Punjabi fort-type house by Punjab Minister of State for Public Works Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur on land, allegedly belonging to the Dera Samadh Karheri on the outskirts of the city, is in the eye of a storm with the district administration forwarding a case to the government, citing various encroachments, including his, which have come up on the dera land.

The district administration had also tried to put up a board on the dera land which is a prime property on the Rajpura road opposite Punjabi University, clearly stating that the land belonged to the government and was not for sale. However, the minister, who was present in his house when officials went to put up the board a few days ago, did not allow it and took possession of the board.

The house of Mr Faujinder Singh, brother of Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, which is under construction. The minister’s fort-type house is in the background. — Tribune photo by Subhash Patialvi

The administration, which took action following orders by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a case involving Bir Kheri Gujran dera in the city recently, has also decided that no further construction will be allowed on the Dera Samadh Karheri land. The minister’s family is likely to be affected by this decision as his brother Faujinder Singh is reportedly building a large house on the same land.

Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir disclosed that all constructions on the dera land would be stopped and that he had entrusted Additional Deputy Commissioner Vikas Pratap to conduct an inquiry into the case.

The minister when contacted said, some officials had come to install a board recently but he had not allowed it. He said he had asked the officials to show him the order which authorised them to put up the board but they were not forthcoming. ‘’When they get any such order, they can put up the board’’, he added.

Mr Mukhmailpur said the entire exercise was a conspiracy by his opponents and that he had done nothing wrong in constructing his house there. He said the land had been sold to him by a disciple of the late mahant of the dera around four years ago and had stated on oath that he was the rightful owner and that he would get the land registered when the registration was opened. He said he had already moved the court that the registration of the land should be done in his favour and claimed that the land did not belong to the Dharmarth Board.

However, the district administration felt otherwise. It had already sent a detailed report of the encroachments done on the dera land to the government and had also sent further clarifications on the issue. It is claimed that the land belonged to the Dharmarth Board as it had been instituted as a dera through a “shahi farman” issued by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. The farman made it clear that the dera land could not be alienated or sold and could be used only for agricultural purposes or to feed sadhus visiting it. The administration claimed that this clearly implied that the successive mahants of the dera were only caretakers.

Administration sources said it had received complaints from one Balbir Singh, who was slated to be appointed the mahant of the dera since 1993 but could not take charge due to health reasons, that a disciple Sampuran Singh had carved out plots from the dera land and sold them to various parties. They said action had been initiated against Sampuran Singh and the case for appointment of Balbir Singh as mahant was lying with the government for final approval.

Meanwhile, it may be too late to save the dera as construction has come up on nearly 25 bighas out of a total 30 bighas. The ‘’samadh’’ in the dera now stands in the verandah of a row of shops constructed along the road. Officials said the administration could not take action earlier as certain orders of the high court as to whether the government could interfere or not were not clear. They said it had now been clarified that the government could take action if the construction was not approved by competent authority. Notices are also likely to be sent to those undertaking construction on the land.

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