Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
The Ayodhya controversy has taken yet another interesting turn with a feudal lord-turned-politician, Shivendra Pratap Shahi, claiming 'zamindari' rights over the disputed shrine and a large chunk of land around it.
Both the shrine and the land are currently under the control of the Union government.
At a press conference in Lucknow on Saturday, Shahi, a general secretary of the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, said: "The land acquired by the Central government in Ayodhya, which includes the disputed Ranjanmbhoomi-Babri Masjid site,
belongs to the Diyara State Trust, which I have inherited from my ancestors."
Producing the relevant documents, he said: "These documents were in Persian and I was in no position to understand their contents until they were translated into Hindi."
He said the land was donated by his grandfather to Raj Rajeshwari Shri Sitaram Trust and duly entered in revenue records of Ayodhya in 1860.
The land was acquired by the Union government after the demolition of the 16th century Mughal mosque by Hindu zealots on December 6, 1992 triggering countrywide communal frenzy that took a heavy toll of human lives.
"The land was donated specifically for religious purposes and a clause in the agreement vested the land in the name of Ram Lalla (infant Lord Ram), who in legal terms was a minor," Shahi said.
Shahi claimed he had documentary evidence to prove that immediately after his return from a 14-year long exile, Lord Ram stayed in an ancient temple that later became a part of the Diyara trust.
The RJD leader said he was now consulting lawyers to move a court to stake his claim on the land. He also claimed to have also roped in Mahant Ramchandra Paramhans, a leading Ayodhya seer who has been raising his voice against the acquisition of the Ayodhya land by the Union government.
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