Propriety cloud over President Pranab Mukheejee's Bodh Gaya visit

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 25 September 2014 | 08.20

Abdul Qadir, TNN | Sep 25, 2014, 04.55PM IST
GAYA: Propriety cloud hovers over President Pranab Mukherjee's Bodh Gaya visit scheduled for 1November'2014. The President is scheduled to participate in a function organised in the Bangladesh monastery. What has added to the discomfiture of the officials is the status of the monastery, the location where the function will be held, has been built in alleged violation of the building construction laws and the status of the land on which construction has taken place is also shrouded in mystery as laws governing the acquisition of land by foreign nationals and trust have not been properly followed.

A criminal case is pending against Bangladesh monastery officials for indulging in an unlawful activity by getting construction work done in explicit violation of the order of the local municipal body which passed order banning construction on account of the violation of law. The case was instituted in the Bodh Gaya police station on 20 December'2013. The case was lodged in the police station on the basis of a written complaint made by Sanjay Lal, Executive officer of the local municipal body. Asked about the status of the case a senior police officer told TOI on Thursday that investigation of the case was under progress.

Sources also say that central intelligence agencies have already informed the Union Home Ministry about the action of the Monastery officials who not only went ahead with construction work in violation of the explicit orders of the Municipal body but even blocked the entry of officials who visited the construction site to execute the construction ban. Now it is for the President's office to take a call in the matter.

In view of the recommendation of the UNESCO, construction activity stands prohibited in a 500 metre radius from the outer wall of the Buddha shrine. Height of buildings stands limited to three metres in the area between 500-1000 metres of the shrine outer wall and no construction beyond a height of 10 metres was permissible in the area between 1000-2000 metres of the shrine. UNESCO made the recommendation while granting World Heritage Site status to Buddha shrine in June'2002. The Bangladesh monastery falls in the prohibited zone, maintain municipal officials who got the case instituted in the police station.

Bodh Gaya watchers recall two similar situations in which VVIPs refrained from visiting disputed sites. During his 2004 visit President Abdul Kalam, known for affinity with children wanted to visit an orphanage located in Cherki village of the district. The then President was advised against the orphanage visit as the orphanage was involved in some land dispute. Again a couple of years back, Srilankan President Rajpaksha cancelled the foundation laying schedule in Bodh Gaya, on account of the questionable nature of land on which construction activity was to take place.

With local officials keeping mum on the issue, all eyes are now fixed on the response of the President's office. There is near unanimity among knowledgeable officials that the President's visit, if it actually materialises will provide some kind of legitimacy to the controversial structure and may even influence the course of the ongoing police investigation.

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