Unholy land deal?

Ram Temple fund use must be transparent

Unholy land deal?

It is a matter of great concern that the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, should be embroiled in a murky scam. Matters around religion should be squeaky clean, for they are extremely emotive and any controversy has the potential of snowballing into an ugly situation. The Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra, a trust set up by the Central government to oversee and manage the temple construction, has been accused of embezzling crores of rupees while buying a piece of land near the temple complex to facilitate easy access for pilgrims. Some local BJP leaders have been accused of connivance in the tainted land deal.

Leaders of the Samajwadi Party and AAP smell a rat as they have separately flashed documents of March 18 that prima facie point to the plot first having been bought from the owners for around Rs 2 crore and 10 minutes later, the same area having been sold to the temple trust for over Rs 18 crore. This staggering difference in cost does beg for an answer. The 15 trustees, 12 of whom have been nominated by the Centre, cannot get away by brushing aside the allegation as being politically motivated. For the sake of transparency and, especially, in deference to the sentiments of the faithful, the trust must come clean immediately as also subject itself to an impartial inquiry.

Those entrusted with the holy task of building the temple are accountable to the lakhs of devotees who have proudly donated and contributed their mite for this cause dear to them. The trust was set up by the Central government in February 2020 following the Supreme Court’s decision of November 9, 2019, in favour of Ram Lalla that cleared the way for the building of the temple on the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. A year later — by February 2021 — the trust had received donations of Rs 1,511 crore and was still counting. The expenditure of every penny given for the pious complex must be above board, just as Lord Ram was known for his ideals.

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