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Bengaluru: Probe initiated against Church of South India for allegedly selling defence land to metro rail

Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) had acquired the disputed land for the construction of the Vellara Junction underground station from Dairy Circle to Nagawara

An FIR was registered against the Church of South India (CSI) on the 20th of August by the Cubbon Park Police Station for allegedly ‘cheating’ the defence ministry by selling 7,426 square metres of its land located in the All Saints Church complex to the Bengaluru Metro Project without its knowledge and consent. Investigation on the matter is underway.

“We are inquiring into the Defence Ministry’s complaint that the CSI had illegally sold a portion of its land, leased to it over a century ago, for the metro project and collected Rs 60 crore compensation from its operator (BMRCL),” Bengaluru Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Chetan Singh Rathore told IANS.

“We have asked both the parties to submit us all documents pertaining to the prime land to ascertain its rightful owner, as they (records) date back to 1860s when the city was under the British rule and the Mysuru Wodeyars were the owners of public lands then,” said Rathore.

“As preliminary investigation has also revealed that both the parties have contested the land ownership in a city civil court, we will wait for its outcome before proceeding with the case,” added Rathore.

“As KIADB is the state-run agency dealing with sale and purchase of lands for industries and infrastructure projects across the southern state, it has vetted the documents the CSI submitted for acquiring it and compensating for it suitably,” BMRCL official YBK. Chavan told IANS.

“If the Defence Ministry claims that the land was leased to the CSI in the 1860s, the onus is on it to prove that it was its owner and submit the lease agreement they both would have entered into over 130 years ago” Rathore asserted.

Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) had acquired the disputed land for the construction of the Vellara Junction underground station from Dairy Circle to Nagawara. In total, BMRCL acquired 3,618 sq meters of the church land occupied by tenants such as Tom’s Hotel and Fatima Bakery. It had paid Rs 60 crore as compensation to the Church of South India.

“In the 1860s or subsequently till the mid-1940s, where was the Indian government and the defence ministry to claim that the land in the All Saints Church premises belonged to it unless it was an open land and inherited by the transfer of assets from the British regime,” a Church official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

A Defence Official said that legal action would be taken against CSI for breaching the lease agreement and Rs. 60 crore would be demanded as compensation for selling the land without taking permission from appropriate authorities.

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