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HomeIndia‘Land mafia’, mystery of missing idol — 'Yogi temple' in Ayodhya courts...

‘Land mafia’, mystery of missing idol — ‘Yogi temple’ in Ayodhya courts string of controversies

Man who built temple dedicated to UP CM also 'missing' in midst of land dispute with uncle. Villagers claim cops took away idol, local police officer rubbishes 'rumours'.

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Lucknow: An idol of Yogi Adityanath has allegedly disappeared from a temple dedicated to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister by a resident of a village in Ayodhya district.

Mysteriously, Prabhakar Maurya (32), who built the temple, is also untraceable, according to the local police.

The idol — about 5 ft tall and carrying a bow and arrow — went missing Sunday, a week after it was installed in the ‘Shri Yogi Mandir’, constructed by Maurya on roughly 2,700 sq ft of land at Kalyan Bhadarsa village of Ayodhya’s Sohawal tehsil. Prabhakar was photographed performing aarti (prayer) before the idol last week.

A video, believed to have been taken sometime after Sunday, shows a lock on the temple’s doors. While villagers claim the idol was removed by local police, the latter have denied the same.

The alleged disappearances of the idol and Prabhakar come a week after the latter’s uncle, Ramnath (55) who is engaged in a property dispute with Prabhakar’s father Jagannath over a plot adjoining the one on which the temple stands wrote to the CM and the Ayodhya district magistrate (DM) claiming that his nephew built the temple to gain possession of “government land”.

According to Ramnath, the plot on which the temple stands is part of ‘gram samaj’ land, owned by the state government.

In his 20 September complaint to the CM, a copy of which is with ThePrint, Ramnath further claimed that his nephew had taken control of an adjoining plot, which is their ancestral land. “On another adjacent piece of land, an idol of Shani Dev has been placed which measures 0.73 hectares where both [Ramnath and Jagannath] have equal rights on half the land,” read the complaint.

Ramnath reiterated the allegations in another complaint to Ayodhya DM Nitish Kumar on 22 September, a copy of which is with ThePrint.

Citing Ramnath’s allegations, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief and former CM Akhilesh Yadav took a dig at Adityanath on Twitter last week, asking him if the UP government will take action against Ramnath’s “land mafia nephew” or a “special team from Delhi” will have to be summoned for it.

According to the local police, a team from the revenue department had visited the village minutes before the idol allegedly went missing Sunday, to verify Ramnath’s claims.

“Prabhakar Maurya’s uncle had alleged that the temple was built on government land to take illegal possession. A revenue department team had arrived at the spot for metering to verify the allegations,” station house officer (SHO) of Pura Kalandar police station Rajesh Singh told ThePrint.

He added that Prabhakar was “missing” and his “phone is switched off”, adding that Prabhakar’s family was claiming that he himself may have removed the idol and fled.

Asked about the villagers’ claims that the police may have removed the idol, the SHO said, “these are rumours”.

Prabhakar is known to be a die-hard Adityanath supporter, who has dedicated several songs on his YouTube channel to the UP CM. 

“Construction (of the temple) had been underway for the past two years but an idol was placed inside it only about ten days ago,” Prabhakar’s uncle Ramnath told ThePrint.

ThePrint reached Sohawal Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Manoj Srivastava via phone calls seeking a comment on the matter, but did not get a response. This report will be updated when a response is received.

Also Read: Yogi gave new status to Vantangiya. Now everything is stuck because they want road too

‘Cops took away idol, revenue officials kept looking’

Sadanand Yadav, head of Kalyan Bhadarsa village, told ThePrint that a team from the revenue department had visited the plot on which the temple stands Sunday morning.

“They had come for metering of land to verify the complaint but it started to rain. They took shelter in a nearby gaushala [cowshed] when SHO of Pura Kalandar police station arrived with a large number of personnel from the provincial armed constabulary or paramilitary force and took the idol away,” he added. 

Ramnath too claimed that the idol was taken away by the police as officials of the revenue department “kept looking”.

“The idol was taken away and the temple has been locked now. I am fighting for my right,” he told ThePrint.

When contacted, Manisha Mishra, an accountant with the revenue department who was part of the team that visited the village Sunday, said any response on the issue can be sought from the SDM.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: Four months on, Yogi govt on the hunt for new police chief. Acting DGP is ‘frontrunner’


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