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Shyamlal Yadav's Probe Reveals How BJP and Adani Acquired Ayodhya Land

Shyamlal Yadav's investigation into the Ayodhya land transactions sheds light on the intricate web of political and corporate interests driving the real estate boom in the region. His work exemplifies the importance of investigative journalism in uncovering critical issues and holding powerful entities accountable.

OPINION

Aaditya Sharma

7/10/20244 min read

Ayodhya Land Rush: A Political and Corporate Affair
(All the sources have been duly hyperlinked and are underlined)

In the midst of the 2024 Lok Sabha election campaign, the Ayodhya (Faizabad) seat witnessed a significant political shift. The ruling BJP faced defeat as the SP candidate emerged victorious. However, beyond the political upheaval, Ayodhya has become a hotbed for real estate development following the January inauguration of the Ram temple. A massive public-private development package has transformed land into prime real estate, attracting various political figures and corporations.

Investigative Findings by Shyamlal Yadav

Shyamlal Yadav, a distinguished journalist from The Indian Express, conducted an in-depth investigation into land transactions in Ayodhya and its neighboring districts. His findings reveal a surge in land deals post the Supreme Court's November 2019 verdict allowing the construction of the Ram temple. Between November 2019 and March 2024, land transactions increased by up to 30% in at least 25 villages within a 15 km radius of the temple, including districts like Gonda and Basti. He calls himself RTI express on 'X'.

Political Connections and Land Acquisitions

Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein

Chowna Mein's family is significantly involved in land purchases near the Ram temple. His sons, Chau Kaan Seng Mein and Aditya Mein, acquired 3.99 hectares of land in Maheshpur (Gonda) for Rs 3.72 crore between September 2022 and September 2023. This land, located just 8 km from the temple, was later partially sold for Rs 98 lakh. Aditya Mein stated that their intention is to develop the land for tourism purposes, including building a hotel and landscaping.

BJP Ex-MP Brij Bhushan Singh

Brij Bhushan Singh, a former national wrestling federation chief facing allegations of sexual harassment and assault, is also linked to significant land acquisitions in Ayodhya. His son, Karan Bhushan, through Nandini Infrastructure, purchased 0.97 hectares of land in Maheshpur (Gonda) for Rs 1.15 crore in January 2023. A portion of this land was later sold for Rs 60.96 lakh in July 2023. Karan Bhushan was elected as the new BJP MP for Kaiserganj in June 2024, further entrenching the political influence in the region.

UP MLA Ajay Singh (BJP)

Ajay Singh, MLA from Harraiya in Basti, has family members involved in land deals near the Ram temple. His brother Krishna Kumar Singh and nephew Sidharth bought 0.455 hectares of agricultural land in Maheshpur (Gonda) for Rs 47 lakh in 2023. The land was purchased under Park View Flats Pvt Ltd, a company where Sidharth is a director. Ajay Singh has distanced himself from the company's activities, stating he is not associated with it.

BJP Ex-MLA Chandra Prakash Shukla

Chandra Prakash Shukla, through Time City Multi-state Cooperative Housing Society, bought 1.34 hectares of agricultural land and 1,985.6 sq m of residential land in Majha Jamthara, 6 km from the temple, between June 2020 and December 2023 for Rs 1.12 crore. Despite Shukla's claim of resigning from Time City in 2017, his connection to these transactions remains notable.

Corporate Involvement: The Adani Group

The Adani Group, a prominent conglomerate, has also joined the land rush in Ayodhya. In September 2023, Adani's subsidiary Homequest Infraspace bought over 1.4 hectares of agricultural land in Majha Jamthara for Rs 3.55 crore. This purchase, made between November and December, was confirmed by a spokesperson who stated that the transaction was conducted in accordance with all laws and regulations and was intended for future development.

Just days before the Ram temple consecration ceremony at Ayodhya, Scroll.in, in its detailed investigation, has found out about land dealings between local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and the Adani group.

According to the story by reporter Ayush Tiwari, between October and December 2023, a firm called Time City Multi State Cooperative Housing Society bought a small parcel of land near the Saryu river for Rs 1.13 crore.

Shyamlal Yadav: A Pioneer in Investigative Journalism

Shyamlal Yadav's meticulous investigation into the Ayodhya land transactions underscores his prowess as an investigative journalist. Known for his effective use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Yadav has consistently held those in power accountable. His previous work, such as the "Streams of Filth" report on India's polluted rivers, was recognized by UNESCO as one of the top 20 investigative reports globally.

Yadav's career includes numerous impactful reports on issues like the foreign travel of ministers and bureaucrats, MPs appointing relatives as personal assistants, and bank staff manipulating Jan Dhan accounts. His contributions have earned him several prestigious awards, including the Ramnath Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism, Lorenzo Natalie Journalism Prize, and the National RTI Award by NDTV-PCRF.

Yadav's dedication to transparency and accountability in journalism has led him to address various conferences worldwide, sharing his insights on RTI and media at esteemed institutions like Columbia University and global platforms such as the Global Investigative Journalism Conference.

The Ayodhya Real Estate Boom: Implications and Concerns

The rush to acquire land in Ayodhya raises several critical questions and concerns. The involvement of political figures and corporations in these transactions highlights the intersection of power, influence, and real estate development. The transformation of agricultural land into prime real estate near the Ram temple has significant socio-economic implications.

Economic Impacts

The influx of investments and development projects in Ayodhya is expected to boost the local economy. The construction of hotels, residential complexes, and other infrastructure can create job opportunities and improve the region's overall standard of living. However, this rapid development also risks displacing local communities and altering the traditional landscape.

Social and Political Dynamics

The land acquisitions by political figures and their families indicate a potential conflict of interest. The close ties between politics and real estate development may lead to preferential treatment and policy decisions favoring certain individuals or groups. This dynamic can undermine public trust and exacerbate existing social inequalities.

Environmental Concerns

The large-scale conversion of agricultural land for real estate development poses environmental challenges. The loss of farmland can impact local food production and biodiversity. Additionally, the construction activities may lead to environmental degradation, affecting water resources and natural habitats.

Shyamlal Yadav's investigation into the Ayodhya land transactions sheds light on the intricate web of political and corporate interests driving the real estate boom in the region. His work exemplifies the importance of investigative journalism in uncovering critical issues and holding powerful entities accountable.

As Ayodhya undergoes rapid transformation, it is essential to address the economic, social, and environmental implications of these developments. Ensuring transparency, equitable growth, and sustainable practices will be crucial in navigating the challenges and opportunities presented by the Ayodhya land rush.