Published: Published Date – 12:15 AM, Wed – 10 August 22

Editorial: Law in land of bulldozers

The Uttar Pradesh government appears to be caught in a catch-22 situation after the Ayodhya Development Authority (ADA) named 40 persons, including the Ayodhya Mayor, an MLA and a former legislator in a land scam. There are two aspects to the emerging scam, one about the illegal plots being sold on which colonies are built without permission and the other is a more explosive one. A piece of land near the place where the Ram temple is coming, up admeasuring 890 square metres, was bought for Rs 20 lakh at a rate of 2,247 per square meter allegedly by the City Mayor, his nephew and another person. Just after 79 days, the same piece of land was sold to the Sriram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust for Rs 2.5 crore earning a profit of 1,250% on the investment. Similarly, another land parcel was allegedly bought at Rs 2 crore and sold a few minutes later to the Trust at Rs 18.5 crore. Understandably, the opposition parties have been demanding that the Supreme Court take suo motu cognisance of the announcement of the Ayodhya Development Authority and order a probe into the land dealings in Ayodhya. The Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress have upped the ante and levelled serious allegations against the BJP leaders and accused Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of looking the other way.

While it may not be prudent to apportion the entire blame to the BJP, as sought to be done by the opposition parties, there appears to be a prima facie involvement of some of the MLAs, the City Mayor and their relatives in the questionable land deals. The issue was brought to light almost a year ago by Rajya Sabha member and AAP in charge of UP, Sanjay Singh, but ironically instead of an impartial inquiry into the allegations, several cases were registered against Singh. Adityanath, whose ‘bulldozer justice’ is sought to be replicated in other States, has maintained a studied silence on the issue. It is an undeniable possibility that if such allegations surfaced in a State ruled by an opposition party, the BJP and its IT cell would have jumped into the fray with demands for instant ‘bulldozer’ justice. With the top BJP leaders being involved in the scam, which is yet to be unfolded completely, both the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh and the party are caught in a bind. There is also merit in the argument of opposition parties that the investigation by the district magistrate into the allegations would not serve any purpose. The only way for the UP government is to order a judicial probe into the episode. After all, Ceaser’s wife must be above suspicion. Ain’t it?

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