India’s first president Rajendra Prasad would never have imagined that land gifted to him in 1940 for starting an educational institution would allegedly be grabbed by the very Congress party of which he had been a member. But that does seem to be the case.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has now written a letter to the Jharkhand government to examine the matter raised by the Dr Rajendra Prasad Memorial Trust.
“We have received a letter from the PMO regarding land gifted to the first president of India and we have directed the Dumka deputy commissioner to examine the issue and take suitable action,” Harendra Prasad Sinha, assistant director of the art, culture, sports and youth affairs department, told IANS.
Arvind Kumar Verma, a representative of the Dr Rajendra Prasad Memorial Trust, had in April written a letter to a senior official in the PMO raising the issue, said Sinha. The PMO official marked the letter to the state chief secretary, who forwarded it to the art and culture department June 5.
The land in question that was donated to Rajendra Prasad 70 years ago is situated on the Dumka-Pakur national highway and is valued at over Rs.10 crore now. Ramjeevan Himmat Singh, a businessman of Dumka district, had gifted five bigha (around 3.5 acres) land to Rajendra Prasad in 1940 to develop an educational institution for girls.
After the former president’s death in 1963, the Congress unit of Dumka district claimed the land in the early 1970s. The party claimed that since Rajendra Prasad belonged to the Congress, the land should be transferred to the party.
According to sources in the Dumka district administration, the land was gifted to Rajendra Prasad. In the gift deed, Rajendra Prasad’d address is mentioned as Jeeradei, Siwan district of Bihar. And there is no mention of the Congress.
According to official sources, the Congress moved a petition April 19, 1976, in the circle office of Dumka to get the land transferred in the party’s name. At that time Jharkhand was part of Bihar and the Congress was in power in the state.
The donor of the land raised objections in the circle office April 24, 1976, pointing out that the land was gifted for a purpose and it was not gifted to the Congress. Despite the donor’s objections, the mutation of the land was done in the party’s name, the sources said.
The issue returned to focus when on Independence Day in 2000, the foundation stone for a new Congress building was laid on the land.
The trust took up the issue after the foundation stone of the Congress building was laid in 2000. A case was filed in the court of the land revenue deputy collector of Dumka. The court in 2007 cancelled the mutation, which was done in favour of the Congress in 1976.
However, the Dumka unit of the Congress moved the court of deputy commissioner in 2008 and the case has been pending since then. The art and culture department has written to the deputy commissioner on June 14, highlighting that the PMO had urged suitable action in the matter.