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Posted on 08 June 2011
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BABA WATCH

This Baba has also amassed wealth!

Photo: Naveesh

Much before the national media went into a frenzy trying to dig information on Baba Ramdev’s wealth, TEHELKA HINDI published a cover story on his business empire and his corrupt ways of purchasing and misusing land. (Yog se Udyog 5 April 2011 by Manoj Rawat and Mahipal Kunwar). Here are some highlights from the article:

Politics and money: In response to a question from Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh, Ramdev divulged the turnover of his two trusts, Divya Yog Mandir and Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust as Rs 1,100 crore. He also added that he doesn’t own even a single rupee worth of property in his name.

Patanjali Ayurved Limited, which was set up in 2006, donated Rs 10 lakh to the BJP during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Ramdev’s aide, Acharya Balkrishna accepted that the company had also donated to the Congress.

Land scam: The law enforced by the Congress government of Uttarakhand in 2004 restricts the purchase of land by non-residents of Uttarakhand to 500 sq m. For purchases beyond that, government permission was made mandatory. But by then Ramdev had amassed 800 bighas. Thereafter, the law was diluted with the addition of a clause, according to which, if the government doesn’t respond within three months, a person can purchase any amount of land by filing an affidavit on a Rs 100 stamp paper. In 2007, after the BJP government had come to power, the law was made stricter and the 500 sq m limit was scaled down to 250 sq m. But even this did not deter Ramdev, his trusts and companies from purchasing 1,700 bigha in lieu of two orders issued by the government in July 2008. His proposal was cleared for the purpose of conducting research and manufacturing medicines. But Ramdev instead sought permissions to use 800 bighas of the abovementioned land to set up a technology park in Mustafabad. Similarly, Ramdev bought 600 bigha land in Aurangabad, just 20 km off Haridwar on which he built a Yogagram. Villagers claim that this Yogagram has encroached upon 200 bighas of land owned by gram sabhas. The village Thakur Ajab Singh Chauhan says that much of the encroached land includes that owned by farmers and allotted to Harijans. Access to the jungle has also been cut off as the pathway leading to it runs through the encroached land. The Tehelka team verified this through Revenue records of Uttarakhand.

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Acharya Balkrishna: His nationality is being questioned but while applying for a passport, he claimed he is an Indian citizen and that his birthplace is Haridwar. On 19 April 1998, the Bareilly passport office issued him a passport (AS 245797). According to the documents accessed by Tehelka, on 5 April 2005 the Local Intelligence Unit, Haridwar, held Balkrishna responsible for attaining the passport and an arms license for a pistol and a rifle (License no. 125/4 and 127/4) by presenting incorrect information. On being asked for his opinion, the senior prosecution officer, Bhopal Dutt Joshi sent a letter to LIU finding Balkrishna guilty of violating Section 468, 471 of IPC and Section 12 - A of the Indian Passport Act.

According to a source, in 2006, Balkrishna suggested a draft Act to the higher education department for setting up a private university. The draft had several flaws but instead of addressing them, he contacted the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, ND Tiwari directly and got it cleared.

Minimum wage dispute: In May 2005, his brother and the manager of Divya Pharmacy fired 90 labourers who were demanding minimum wages. Later, others also joined in. After 16 days of strike, a tripartite agreement was reached between the Labour Commissioner (Haridwar), Divya Yog Mandir Trust (Kankhal) and the labourers after which the Trust agreed to pay minimum wages. But the very next day, they weren’t allowed to enter the factory premises, and 114 labourers were fired. The matter is still pending with the Labour Commission.

Illegal land reclamation: On a tip-off from the villagers, the Tehelka team on its visit to Yogagram, found that the Ratmau River was being filled to reclaim land. On a stretch of around half a kilometre in length, the river was being filled for approximately 20 metres in width. The village Thakur, Ajab Singh Chauhan claims that Ramdev diverted the river to his farms during the last monsoon which rendered 500 bigha land infertile.

Ramdev's refusal to name a "corrupt minister": Ramdev caused an uproar in November last year when he said that a minister in Uttarakhand had asked him for a Rs 2 crore bribe to get some work done. He even dragged the Chief Minister, Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri saying that when he complained to him, the CM simply said that the minister should have asked for the money as funds for the party. In response, the CM immediately called a press conference announcing that Ramdev had never complained against the minister and even challenged Ramdev to name the minister. He also warned that he would file a case of defamation against Ramdev. But Ramdev remained silent and did not disclose the minister's name. Uttarakhand Kranti Dal's chairman, Trivendra Singh Pawar claims that Ramdev - who started the drive against corruption- lost the fight on moral grounds when Ramdev instead of naming the minister who demanded a Rs 2 crore bribe, chose to remain silent.

Compiled by Shonali Ghosal and Prakhar Jain

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Posted on 08 June 2011
 

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