New Delhi: Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra, the trust set up to oversee construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya, received its first big donation in the form of a cheque for Rs 2 crore soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced its constitution on 5 February.
However, the trust had to return the cheque to the donor, retired IPS officer Kishore Kunal from Bihar, as it did not have a system in place to accept such large donations. This was revealed to ThePrint by Kamlesh Chaupal, member of the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the lone Dalit member of the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra.
“Kunal had earlier announced that he would donate Rs 10 crore for the temple. As soon as the new trust was announced, he landed in Ayodhya with a cheque for Rs 2 crore. But the trust members in Ayodhya returned the cheque as there was no system in place to accept large donations,” Chaupal said Tuesday, highlighting that there will be no dearth of funds for the construction of the temple.
“People from across the country are ready to donate on their own. We don’t have to start any movement for this,” Chaupal said.
Soon after the formation of the trust, D. Murmu, an under secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, contributed one rupee in cash on behalf of the government to get it started.
“People have already started making donations. But we are not in a position to accept now, as we don’t have a set up in place. A treasurer will have to be appointed first, a bank account will have to be opened, a place for setting up the trust office has to be finalised,” Chaupal, who laid the foundation stone for the Ram temple in Ayodhya in 1989, said.
A VHP source said that an account could be opened in the name of the trust, where people could send their donations.
First meeting of the trust today
The first meeting of the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra is scheduled to take place Wednesday evening at the residence of its chairman, 92-year-old Supreme Court lawyer K. Parasaran.
Although no agenda has been set for the meeting, sources said the 10 members appointed so far could decide on nominating the other two members they are supposed to pick, as well as discuss who the office-bearers would be.
The trust is supposed to have 14 members in total, including the collector of Ayodhya district (earlier known as Faizabad) as an ex-officio member. The central and Uttar Pradesh governments are supposed to appoint one official representative each to the trust.
The VHP source quoted earlier said Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas president Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, who has been invited to attend the first meeting of the trust, or some other senior functionary of the Nyas could be nominated to the trust.
Decision on the fate of Ram Janambhoomi Nyas
The trust, the source said, could also discuss the fate of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, one of the first organisations set up to lay the groundwork for the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya, way back in 1985.
Besides preparing a design for the temple, volunteers of the VHP-affiliated Nyas have also completed 70 per cent of the groundwork for the temple.
“There is a thinking that whatever work that has been done by the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas could be subsumed in the new trust,” the VHP source said.