Hyderabad: Religious group Dera Sacha Sauda, under controversial guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, had planned to set up an ashram in Nalgonda district of Telangana, about 100km from Hyderabad.
Rahim Singh made headlines after a court convicted him of rape and hundreds of thousands of his followers went on a rampage in Haryana, Punjab and Delhi. He had purchased 59 acres [23 hectares] of land in Veliminedu village, under Chityala Mandal, over seven years, from 2008.
A compound wall had been built around the property and plans were being drawn to build an ashram, a hotel, a college and an old-age home. And while the plans to construct had been in the pipeline for some time, there was resistance from residents following allegations that the land purchased includes that allotted to the poor by the government.
Following growing pressure from the villagers to demolish the compound wall and recover the assigned land, revenue department authorities took up the inquiry and found irregularities.
Mandal Revenue officer Ch Vijayalakshmi said, “Our inquiry has shown that part of the land was encroached upon by the Trust”, adding that the government will initiate the steps to recover the land.
The land was registered in the name of Shyam Lal, DSS representative in Hyderabad and four other individuals: Puroshottam Lal, Satbeer, Chandrakant and Chandrababu.
Villagers say Rahim Singhhad invited the Sarpanch (elected head of the village) to Sirsa in Haryana two years ago and donated Rs100,000 (Dh57,49) to the village for the construction of a temple, a cycle stand in a government school and to install a statue of Swami Vivekananda. He had also discussed the plans of setting up an ashram in the village, a few kilometres off the busy Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway.
However, the latest turn of events has put a question mark over the plans and most villagers are heaving a sigh of relief that such a controversial Ashram has not materialised. But there were also people in the village who regret that the village did not get the projects promised by Rahim Singh.