Controversy over Osho land in Pune | All you need to know

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Nine Osho disciples have now objected to the proposed sale of three-acre land at the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune. What the controversy is all about? Pankaj Khelkar in India Today, published on March 17, 2021.

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Osho is one of the most influential mystics and spiritual teachers of the modern time | File photo

After nine more Osho disciples objected to the proposed sale of three-acre land at the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune, the Charity Commissioner’s office heard their objections on Monday and listed the matter for hearing on March 25.

Zurich-based OIF, which owns the Osho International Meditation Resort or Osho Ashram, had earlier sought permission from the Charity Commissioner to sell two of its plots (about 9,836 square meters) in the resort located at posh Koregaon Park area here to Rajiv Bajaj of Bajaj Auto and Rishabh Family Trust for Rs 107 crore.

Here is all you need to know about the controversy over Osho land:

Who wants to sell the Osho land?

One of the trustees of the Osho land, Mukesh Sarda, submitted an application on December 16, 2020, before the Charity Commissioner wherein it stated: “Under Section 36(1)(a) of Maharashtra Public Trust Act, 1950, for the proposed sale of land that his trust “Osho International Foundation” be granted permission to sell both plots government leasehold plots of lands bearing plot no.15 and plot no.16 aggregating to 9836.2 square meters together with bungalow and other structures admeasuring 4032.56 square feet situated at Koregaon Park, Pune.”

Mukesh Sarda said in his application that he along with Devendra Singh Dewal, Sadhana Belapurkar and Lal Pratap Singh are the trustees of the Osho International Foundation Trust.

Why does Osho International Foundation want to sell the Osho land?

Mukesh Sarda, in his application dated December 16 last year, also mentioned that in view of the present situation in India and around the world, and the uncertainty about the continuation of the Covid-19 effect, it would not be possible to restart the meditation activities in the near future. This has severely affected the cash flow of the Trust, leading it into dire need of funds to meet its financial obligations.

Sarda also submitted that the cash flow situation caused on account of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a situation whereby the Trust will not have any income for a long period of time but there will be a fixed cost for maintaining the premises and the properties of the Trust.

His application said comparing the income with expenditure, there is a deficit of Rs 3,37,18,444.89, which amounts to Rs 3.37 crore.

Who all have shown their interest in purchasing Osho land?

On September 1, 2020, the Applicant Trust published a tender notice in two dailies where it was mentioned that the Osho International Resort wants to sell its land.

Simultaneously, bids were asked for.

On October 20, the trust obtained the valuation report of the said properties – valued at Rs 92,11,00,000 .

It mentioned in the application filed by Mukesh Sarda that in response to the tender notice, Atul Ishwardas Choradia, A2Z Online Services Private Limited and Rajivnayan Rahulkumar Bajaj filed their bids – Rs 72 crore by Atul Chordia and Rs 82 crore by A2Z online services and Rs 107 crore by Rajiv Bajaj.

The permission application by Mukesh Sarda also mentioned that bid of Rs 107 crore was shortlisted and Rajivnayan Rahulkumar Bajaj’s bid was finalised.

How did Yogesh Thakkar come to know about the sale of Osho land?

It was between January 20 and January 25 that Yogesh Thakkar, an Osho disciple, happened to be at the Charity Commissioner’s Mumbai office.

He read the register wherein the listed application is being dated to be heard.

A friend of Yogesh Thakkar told India Today that Osho disciples were shocked to know that their meditation place – the Osho Land – was up for sale.

Immediately, Thakkar made an intervention application and submitted it on January 27, 2021.

The Charity Commissioner office listed the hearing for March 15, 2020.

How many Osho disciples have objected to the sale?

On March 15, while hearing the objection to the sale of the 3-acre prime locality Osho land to businessman Rajiv Bajaj, the Charity Commissioner in Mumbai took into account the intervention application filed by nine other Osho disciples who have objected to the sale of Osho land.

The contents of the objection/intervention petition filed by Yogesh Thakkar sites three reasons objecting to the sale:

1. The reason put up by present Osho trustees for the land worth Rs 107 crore is unacceptable because the expenditure of Rs 3.65 crore for six months is beyond expectation during the lockdown period as all of the Osho Ashram activities were not happening and only 10 people were staying there.

If more disciples were staying, then this information was not shared by present trustees.

2. Before putting up the land for sale, the present trustees – Mukesh Sarda, Maa Sadhana Belapurkar, Laal Pratap Singh and Devendra Singh Deval – mentioned that the ashram needs Rs 3.65 crore for maintenance.

3. Allegations that the trustees of Osho Trust have registered private limited companies such as Osho Multi-Media and Resorts Pvt limited, Zen Properties Private limited.

These four trustees mentioned in the application by Yogesh Thakkar are also directors in the above companies.

Yogesh Thakkar alleged that he has evidence and illustration of the transfer of money that the daily income of the Osho Ashram and properties of the trust are siphoned by the trustees in the said private limited companies.

The alleged amount is more than Rs 800 crore.

Yogesh Thakkar has demanded that if the above amount of Rs 800 crore is brought back, then Osho Commune in Pune will be in surplus and there won’t be any need for the sale of the land.

As per sources, the Charity Commissioner office in Mumbai has initiated an inquiry in connection with the alleged affairs of the trust which is pending.

The contents of intervention petitions filed by the nine other disciples of Osho states that they have shown their interest in paying the deficit amount of Rs 3.64 crore to Pune Osho Commune, for which land is on sale as mentioned in the application by Osho trustees to Charity Commissioner at Mumbai.

The condition put up by the nine Osho disciples for paying the deficit amount is that the present trustees will have to share details of the expenditure incurred during the Covid time and this commune will allow all of Osho disciples to enter and meditate at Pune, Koregoan Osho Commune.

What Osho trustees have to say about financial irregularities allegations?

One of the present Osho trustees, Maa Sadhana, told India Today, “It is inappropriate to talk on this matter when the case is being heard in front of Hon Charity Commissioner.”

India Today also reached out to Rajiv Bajaj about the purchase of the said land. His reply is awaited.

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