Dainik Bhaskar Group: Acquisition of land for Sanskaar Valley School comes under a cloud

Lalit Shastri

Sanskaar Valley SchoolA huge controversy surrounds a piece of land on the outskirts of Bhopal, in an area contiguous with the Ratapani Sanctuary, that was purchased by Sharda Devi Charitable Trust to build the sprawling campus of Sanskaar Valley School that was inaugurated by Congress President Sonia Gandhi in July 2006.

Sharda Devi Charitable Trust is closely linked with Dainik Bhaskar Group. The registered address of this Trust, as shown in the sale deed of the controversial piece of land, and the Corporate office of DB Corp Limited is in the same building – Dwarka Sadan, 6 Press Complex in Bhopal. This building is built on a plot that also has run into a deep controversy due to two lease deeds (click to read more).

The sale deed for the land (37.13 acre in village Chandanpura) acquired for building the Sanskaar Valley School has thrown up many questions and only a thorough probe will help in answering these- especially how the name of the owner of this land, which was shown as grazing land in government records, was changed by the concerned authorities without bringing credible evidence on record and without following due procedure. This smacks of a conspiracy allegedly hatched to regularise the sale of government grazing land in a picturesque surrounding of Bhopal to a former state Chief Minister’s son and the remaining part of it to Sharda Devi Charitable Trust for setting up the Sanskaar Valley School – the sale deed for this says that the land was sold to the Trust for Rs. 66,83,400. From this sale consideration Rs. 17, 11,000 was paid on behalf of the Trust by Writers and Publishers Ltd as settler of the Trust. The remaining amount 49,72,400 was paid through cheque on 15 July 2004. The sale deed is mysteriously silent about the source and the account from which the remaining amount, which was close to Rs. 50 lakh, was paid.

The seller of this land, Nazmul Rehman Qureshi (N.R. Qureshi) says in the sale deed signed by him for a part of the same piece of land sold to a former chief minister’s son that he had acquired it through a registered sale deed on 28 May 1953. The authenticity of the sale deed gets exposed as the date of birth mentioned in Qureshi’s passport number UO63740 issued in Dubai on 15 March 1995 is 24 April 1951. Obviously under the law of the land, as a less than two year old child in 1953, he could not have acquired this piece of land through a registered sale deed. Inquiries by Newsroom24x7 have also put a question mark on the antecedents and background of Qureshi. A reliable source pointing to his passport issued in Dubai said an agency like the National Investigation Agency (NIA) should probe Qureshi’s antecedents and also whether or not he has had links with a banned organisation like the SIMI.

During the previous Congress regime in Madhya Pradesh, the MP State Industrial Development Corporation (MPSIDC) had introduced the controversial inter-corporate deposit scheme (ICDS) in 1995 under which ICD transactions were done with different industries and corporate houses. After many groups had become defaulters vis-a-vis the ICDS scheme, the BJP regime led by Shivraj Singh Chouhan in 2005-06 provided the escape route by offering a one-time settlement. Dainik Bhaskar was a beneficiary of this settlement policy.

The Dainik Bhaskar Group that began as a small-town newspaper from a congested lane in Bhopal more than 50 years ago today boasts of its position as the largest circulated national daily of India.

Notwithstanding its pan-India presence, the Bhaskar Group is now caught in an ongoing legal battle and the question to be decided by court is whether M/s Dwarka Prasad Agarwal and Brothers is the owner or whether M/s Writers and Publishers Limited and DB Corp Limited are the owners of the daily Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar with all its editions across India. Linked with this case is the sale of the publishing business of Dainik Bhaskar, Bhopal to Writers and Publishers in March 1985 and the creation of a new lease deed for the plot allotted to Dainik Bhaskar in April 1985. There is also a demand for a thorough investigation into the two lease deeds for the allotment of a plot to Dainik Bhaskar in Bhopal (click for more).

Click here for more on the land acquired for Sanskaar Valley School

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