Mumbai: Yet another controversy surrounding Associated Journals Ltd has been unearthed. CNN-IBN has accessed RTI documents that raise fresh questions. The documents show that the Maharashtra government gave premium land in Bandra in 1983 to Associated Journals, now acquired by the Gandhis' Young Indian company, for building a Nehru memorial library and a research centre.
However, the documents reveal, that Associated Journals squatted on the land and did not build the library. Despite that, it got repeated extensions from the Maharashtra government. Additionally, despite owing the government Rs 3.7 crore in lease rentals, the Associated Journals facilitated the building of a housing society adjoining their land.
Reportedly, 3,479 sq mt of prime land in Bandra was given to Associated Journals. In the year 2000, Associated Journals wrote to the district collector seeking a realignment of boundaries of their plot. Subsequently, one portion of that land was given to the housing society, Sai Prasad where former Mumbai Congress Chief Kripashnakar Singh and a number of bureaucrats now live.
The RTI activist who sought these documents has now written to the CM asking why the land alloted to Associated Journal has not been reclaimed. "I asked the CM, will you have the guts to take back land from a comapny that is now owned by Rahul Gandhi himself," said Anil Galgali.
The Chief Minister, however, says he is unaware. "I don't know... the matter hasn't come to me." For many, the prime piece of land lies at the heart of allegations that Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy's made last week - that the Nehru-Gandhi family who are shareholders in Young Indian, the company that now controls Associated Journals - are interested not in the newspapers it runs, but the land it controls, which is worth thousands of crores.