Barabanki land deals continue to haunt Amitabh Bachachan

Barabanki land deals keep on to trouble Amitabh Bachachan. This time focus shifts to the promised Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Girls Inter College that proved a non-starter, much to the chagrin of the villagers in the dusty little hamlet of Daulatpur, 40 km off Lucknow, despite a high profile opening ceremony held two years ago.

On Monday, additional chief judicial magistrate (fast track) directed Mohamadpur police to look into a criticism against the superstar filed by the village Pradhan Rajkumari Singh, who has tried tripping Bachchan second time within a year incidentally. In her complaint filed before the court, Singh has charged the actor with fraud, cheating and criminal conspiracy among slew of other serious allegations.

Bachchan is named along with six other accomplices, including daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Nishtha Foundation -- run by Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Prada and its secretary Devendra Kumar. Singh has demanded lodging of an FIR against the guilty. Taking cognizance of the matter, the court has ordered the police to probe the issue and submit its report on June 10.

The complainant accuses the actor of hatching a conspiracy to acquire land for the girls inter college by fooling the gullible villagers and gifting the same to Nishtha Foundation in an illegal manner.

Talking to TOI, Ranvir Singh, Rajkuari Singh's counsel, said that though the entire transaction regarding the promised girls college was fraudulent, the pradhan's objection mainly centred around the transfer of "gata no 711 and 793". Bachchan, he said, had given up his claims on the land in his affidavit filed before the high court in a bid to wriggle out of the land scam controversy.

"In 2006, the land was registered in the name of Vinay Kumar Shukla his `mukhtar-e-aam' (armed with power of attorney), who later sold the same to Bachchan even though he had ownership of only 1/3rd of the plot. Bachchan and others, says the complaint, was well aware of the reality still the land was transferred to Aishwarya Rai by a registered deed on September 22, 2009.

"Bachchan has been playing games all along," says Avnendra Singh, Rajkumari's son and the de facto pradhan. "Only proper investigation would reveal the extent of fraud involved in the transaction," he said and claimed that several MPs and MLAs contributed generously to the project from their official funds while others used the opportunity for getting income tax rebate.

Meanwhile, Rajkumari has no clue about her role. The illiterate village woman remained silent in the court room letting his son and lawyer take charge. Avnendra effectively ensured that she kept off media and whisked her away. Later when contacted, he claimed the pradhan had gone out of town on some urgent work.

Last October, she had approached the district magistrate, Barabanki, crying foul when Amitabh gifted the Daulatpur land to Nishta Foundation for setting up the inter college. Singh had pleaded that the land was already donated by the actor to the village council therefore the transaction was a forgery.

A five-member committee headed by SDM, Barabanki had probed the charges and give a clean chit to Bachchan on technical grounds even as the actor formally handed over the land to the foundation later on. And even as the local police begins investigations, a section of villagers have begun to question the motive behind "yet another publicity stunt by anti-Amitabh caucus".



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