Trustee of Khandoba Temple illegally sells donated land

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Through a Right to Information (RTI) document, it has been uncovered by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of ‘Sprouts’ newspaper that the land gifted to the revered Khandoba temple of Maharashtra has been illicitly sold and crores of rupees have been siphoned off by the trustee of the temple.

Unmesh Gujarathi
Sprouts Exclusive

There is a temple of Lord Khandoba in Jejuri village of Pune district of Maharashtra. Khandoba is the Kuldaivat (family deity) of Maharashtra.

Devotees not only from Maharashtra but also from abroad come to Jejuri to have darshan of this deity. Many of these devotees have donated land along with money out of faith.

The tradition of donating land is very ancient. It is recorded that Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj (son of Chhatrapati Sambhaji and maharani Yesubai, Satara Dynasty) donated hundreds of acres of land to this temple. Also, his manuscript documents in Modi script have also come into the hands of ‘Sprouts’.

There is a government rule and also an order of the Supreme Court that these donated lands should not be sold in any form and should not be used in any form other than agriculture. These lands are dedicated for agriculture. It is obligatory to give some part of the income
(as compensation) to the temple, but the fact remains that the temple has not yet received any compensation.

Sangvi is a small village in Phaltan taluka of Satara district. The temple has 23 acres of land in this village. Some of these acres of land have been mutually sold. The occupiers ( vahivatdar ) were illegally given written permission for this sale.

This permission was given by the then trustee Maruti Sarjerao Gawade, dated 25 May 2008 on Shree Martand Devasthan letterhead. There are no incoming and outgoing numbers and signatures of other trustees on this letterhead.

With the permission of the then Trustee Gawade, the occupiers of this land Babaso Hariba Mohite and Janabai Babaso Mohite sold this land to 8 people and collected crores of rupees from it.

Shree Martand Devasthan has been involved in huge financial scams in the past. Former trustee of the trust Nanda Raut and social activist Surendra Kadam have repeatedly raised their voice against this.

In this case too, these social workers have contacted Revenue Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe- Patil, Charity Commissioner (Mumbai) Mahendra Mahajan, Joint Charity Commissioner (Pune) Sudhir Kumar Buke, A complaint has been lodged with Collector Dr. Rajesh Deshmukh (Pune). And they are continuously following it up.

Some of these 23 acres of donated land were illegally sold on 25 May 2008. More importantly, the documents obtained by the SIT of ‘Sprouts’ have also revealed that the occupiers
( vahivatdar ) had taken an illegal loan on 31 June 1987 on this 23 acre land.

The banks who lend illegally:
● Bank of India, Vaduj
● The Satara District co-operative Society, Satara
● District Lawyers co-operative Credit Ltd. (Satara)
● Shrimant Malojiraje co-operative Bank, Phaltan
● Sanghvi V. K. co-operative Bank, Phaltan
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