Indore: Asaram’s ashram under scanner for land abuse, adding sports facilities

Indore: The local ashram of Asaram Bapu who was sentenced to life imprisonment by Jodhpur court on Wednesday for raping a minor girl, is under scanner for unuathorised construction. Two cases pertaining to violation of lease conditions, raising illegal construction and encroachment on government lands are pending in revenue courts of collector and tehsildar. The ashram located at Khandwa Road is run by Asharam Bapu Gurukul Trust.

For the first time, a complaint was moved in collector’s revenue court in 2008 about encroachment. Subsequently, a notice was served to the trust in 2009 and 2011. However, the trust declined to reply on both the occasions. After news about rape by Asaram surfaced in August 15, 2013, a fresh complaint was lodged in the revenue court when Akash Tripathi was district collector. Tripathi took cognisance of the complaints and ordered investigation into the matter.

Rajendra Gupta, an RTI activist, who continuously lodged complaint from 2008 to 2013, stated that conditions of the land lease were grossly breached by ashram authorities. Briefing about the case, Gupta said that in 1998, the then chief minister Digvijay Singh had allotted 6.859 hectares of land to Asaram Bapu Gurukul Trust at lease rate Re 1 per year with the condition to develop a garden of medicinal plants and implement public welfare schemes of state government.

It was clearly mentioned in the lease condition that no cement construction will be raised. However, after taking the government land, trust purchased private land and also encroached upon 5.7 acres of government land. Gradually, trust added all modern amenities including basket ball and volleyball courts, swimming pool in the ashram.

Taking note, a team of district administration led by the then SDM Dr Varadmurthi Mishra and tehsildar Purnima Singhi were sent to ashram for investigation. Their report confirmed the presence of buildings, swimming pool and other facilities. Another team led by the then tehsildar Bajrang Bahadur, on January 4, 2014, demarcated the land.

The demarcation of land was carried out under the supervision of Indore Bench of MP High Court designated commissioner Aniket Naik.  His team included tehsildar Bajarang Bahadur, nayab tehsildar Rajesh Singh, superintendent of land records Banvariya, revenue inspector Shekhar Bapat, Rahul Gayakwad and patwari Om Choudhary.

The trust authorities challenged the action in Indore Bench of MP Court, which refrained both the courts to pronounce judgement but allowed them to continue the proceedings.  Though both the revenue courts have completed the hearing, they have not given judgments because of High Court order. District collector Nishant Warwade was unavailable for comment.

Rajendra Gupta, RTI activist

Asharam Bapu Gurukul Ashram Trust has grossly breached the lease condition. Also, it has made encroachment on government land. Both my complaints are pending in the collector and tehsildar court for which a decision is awaited.

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