Sprawling over 20 acres of land, the trust has now been building ‘Gokul Home Society’ on it.
BHOPAL- Six months after the riot hit town of Khargone began limping back to normalcy, a new controversy has exposed the eroded trust between the two communities.
A trust run by a group of Hindus used an Urdu name, appointed a Muslim manager and intimidated Hindus to purchase their land at throwaway prices. Islamophobia was the tool.
Years later, the organisation is back in the limelight after members of another trust, started by the same founder, have complained of misuse of their funds. In the complaint to the Khargone police they have alleged that an organisation named Tanzeem-E-Zarkhez which was renamed to PC Mahajan Foundation, used their money to buy lands.
Over half a dozen farmers of the Rajpura panchayat, who sold their nearly 50 acres of land because of the "fear of Muslims" claim that they were tricked by Ravi Prakash Mahajan, who owns both the trust.
A complaint had been filed by advocate Sudheer Kulkarni in May 2016 to Khargone collector after a few farmers approached him.
The farmers allege that men employed by the organisation called Tanzeem-E-Jarkhez bought land from them at cheap rates back in 2002-2003 by telling them that the area will be used to establish a Muslim colony with a butcher house and a graveyard near their home, that will force them to leave. The land is now being used to build a housing colony that has no Muslim residents.
Fifty-year-old Ram Narayan Kushwaha, a resident of of Rajpura village, told BOOM that in 2004-05 a strong rumor gripped in the nearby villages that a Muslim organisation is opening a butcher house and have purchased most of the lands close to the village. The rumour that this Muslim organisation will force Hindu villagers to evict spread like wildfire.
"In fear, many of the villagers including my brother sold his land which he had inherited from the family and became landless," Ram Narayan said.
He remembers an agent called 'Bablu Khan' who would often visit their village to persuade the landowners to sell off their empty lands.
"Once they open a butcher house, your land will be of no use and you will be compelled to sell it at a cheaper rate," he remembers Khan repeating this to the villagers.
"My brother fell into his trap and sold four acres of land at a meager amount," he said.
Another farmer of Rajpura village, 65-year-old Nand Kishore Kushwaha, too, claimed that an agent persuaded him to sell off the land. "Zakir came with a broker who told me that my land is surrounded by his five acres of land that is going to be used to open a butcher house for Muslims," he told BOOM, narrating the incident that happened in 2004-05. "Sell it off else your land will be surrounded and may not be useful," he remembered being told.
"Seeing no way out, I sold five acres of my land for Rs 80,00," he said. Nand Kishore said he got only Rs 40,000.
Deepak Kushwaha of Rajpura village told BOOM that his father sold nine acres of land to Tanzeem-E-Zarkhez at a throwaway price because many of the villagers had already sold their land to them. Similarly, Nanu Kushwaha sold around 20 acres of land to the organisation.
Ram Narayan Kushwaha said that the land was sold to Tanzeem-E-Jarkhez and the registry was done in English. "Later we came to know that the Muslim organisation was renamed after PC Mahajan Foundation and all the lands belong to them now," he said.
"I know at least six farmers who were tricked to sell off 50 acres of their lands at merely Rs 15,000 to 17,000 an acre. We urge the district administration to probe which organisation got our ancestral land," Kushwaha said.
In 2002, Ravi Shankar Mahajan, a school teacher, set up an organisation called 'Tanzeem-E-Jarkhez'. He appointed his friend Zakir Shaikh as the manager of it.
The trust was set up after collecting a total of Rs 1 crore from about 100 businessmen of the city to work for protecting the environment and cows.
Zakir, who worked for a Mumbai-based firm, quit his job to join Mahajan on a salary of Rs 5,000 a month. In a bid to purchase land for the trust, he began visiting the villages in the vicinity of Khargone city.
Using Zakir as a tool, over the next two-three years, hundreds of Hindu farmers in Rajpura panchayat of Dabariya locality in Nanjhiri, Badgaon and Chatalgaon villagers were approached by the trust to sell off their lands, farmers told BOOM. They were told that their land will otherwise be used to establish a Muslim colony with a butcher house and a graveyard near their home, that will force them to leave.
The farmers were asked to sell off their lands or face harassment of living besides Muslims once the colony is set up.
Meanwhile, the Muslims of the locality say that they were approached to sell off their lands at a cheaper rate too for supporting the charity that would work for the welfare of the community. Unconvinced, they did not sell the lands.
Director of the Trust Ravishankar Mahajan said that within two years, the trust successfully pooled over 200 acres of land. And then, it changed its name from Tanzeem-E-Jarkhez to P.C Mahajan Foundation in 2007.
Ravi's friend Zakir had quit the manager's job after working for two years. "I returned to Khargone for my personal reasons. But quit after two years seeing no future in the organisation."
The Man Behind The 'Muslim' Organisation
According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, P.C Mahajan Foundation is a non-government company limited by shares. With an authorized capital of Rs 20 lakh, Ravishankar Mahajan is director of the trust. The website does not reflect the previous name or the balance sheet.
"Keeping an Urdu name and later changing it to another is not prohibited by the Constitution," Ravi Mahajan told BOOM when asked why the company name was changed from 'Tanzeem-E-Jarkhez'.
"I formed the trust with the name Tanzeem-E-Jarkhez because it was conveying our purpose; turning the barren lands into a fertile one," he said explaining the reason for the Urdu name. Tanzeem-E-Jarkhez translates to "organisation of fertile lands."
Mahajan said that he changed the name in 2007 after members of the trust started objecting to it.
When questioned over the allegations of misusing the Urdu name and spreading misinformation to buy cheaper lands, he said, "I have purchased over 148 acres of barren land from cotton traders, businessmen and government officers. The remaining land was purchased from farmers who willingly sold it off."
In 2007, after the renaming, billboards were erected on the purchased lands that belong to PC Mahajan foundation. A billboard of the foundation erected in Dabariya locality bears the name of Ranjeet Singh Dander as president of the trust. Dander was a co-convenor of Bajrang Dal Malwa Prant and former district president of the BJP.
When asked about this, Mahajan said, "Ranjeet Singh joined the foundation in 2011, he has nothing to do with the past."
The Real Purpose
The land that was purchased with the idea of protecting cows and the environment has not built any cowshed or done anything substantial for the environment in the last two decades.
Mahajan claimed that "those were the barren lands and with our effort and labour we made it fertile land."
Sprawling over 20 acres of land, the trust has been building 'Gokul Home Society'. According to the trust director, Gokul Home Society will be housing families of working class people. Still under construction, it currently houses 40 families.
"We have provided affordable housing to 40 families at just Rs 5.75 lakh. The society is equipped with all modern facilities," Mahajan said.
"All the benefiricies belong to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe. None of them are Muslims," he said when asked about the beneficiaries.
After a group of farmers approached Khargone based lawyer Sudheer Kulkarni in 2016 alleging that they were tricked with the fear of Muslims, Kulkarni filed a complaint to the Khargone district collector.
Kulkarni, who is also a worker of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, moved a complaint against the foundation alleging illegal conversion of acres of land from Tazeem-E-Jarkhez to PC Mahajan Foundation without following the due process. But there was no follow up on his complaints.
Speaking to BOOM, he said, "They not only duped Hindu farmers using Islamophobia but also converted the land illegally without paying the conversion taxes. It's a case of revenue evasion."
"A few members of the trust have again given a written complaint to the collector alleging corruption. Besides, we have also moved an application to Khargone SP demanding to lodge an FIR against the trust and its office bearers," he said.
Almost six years before establishing Tanzeem-E-Jarkhez, Ravishankar Mahajan, director of the trust, set up another charitable trust, Prakash Smriti Sewa Sansthan in 1996-97.
Under the banner, Prakash recruited over 20,000 members by offering lucrative pension schemes for the members above 60-65 years and financial aid of Rs 1 lakh to each member upon his death. The trust collected between Rs 1,500 to Rs 8,000 from all the members, said an official of the trust.
Over a dozen members of the Prakash Smirti Sewa Sansthan complained to Khargone superintendent of police on October 27 alleging that the organisation used their money and invested in Tanzeem-E-Jarkhez which was renamed as PC Mahajan Foundation to buy lands and is now building homes, to make profit.
They further complained that the organisation has been refusing to pay the money which they were promised. Some of the members alleged that their membership was canceled after they complained.
Speaking to BOOM, one of the complaints, Baliram Yadav said, "I have invested in the organisation to enjoy benefits after retirement. But, when I recently consulted the officials, they said that the policy has been discontinued. And I have a debt of Rs 17,000."
They have demanded to lodge an FIR against the organisation and its functionaries.
Requesting anonymity, an official of the Prakash Smriti Seva Sansthan said, "When employees opposed the siphoning of money and discontinuation of the trust's popular scheme, they were sacked without any explanation and all the staff of the trusts were replaced."
He also said that funds collected from the members of Prakash Smriti Seva Sansthan were siphoned for the projects of PC Mahajan foundation.
The allegations, director Ravi Mahajan said are 'baseless'. "We are fulfilling all the promises we have made in the past. We have paid Rs 1.84 crore to the deceased of 22 members months ago. After COVID, the death rate of members has just doubled but the money is limited."
Speaking to BOOM, Khargone SP Dharamveer Singh said, "We have got some complaints from members of the organisation and sacked employees. We are looking into it."