Monday, Nov 28, 2022

Rajmahal Palace controversy: ‘Royal family’ hits streets, govt stands by action

A rare protest rally led by Padmini Devi of the erstwhile royal family started the day, while a press conference by Urban Development Minister Rajpal Singh Shekhawat ended it.

Rajmahal Palace, Rajasthan government, rajmahal controversy, hotel rajmahak palace, Padmini Devi, princess Padmini Devi, royal family, royal family protest, rajpal singh shekhawat, palace demolition, indian express news, jaipur news, latets news, india news Padmini Devi at a rally in Jaipur, Thursday. Source: Rohit Jain Paras

The Rajasthan government on Thursday stood by its decision to seal the gates of Hotel Rajmahal Palace, saying the action of the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) was “legal and bona fide”, and dismissed concerns raised by the erstwhile royal family of Jaipur.

A rare protest rally led by Padmini Devi of the erstwhile royal family started the day, while a press conference by Urban Development Minister Rajpal Singh Shekhawat ended it. The end result: the government locks remain at the main entrance of the premium hotel property.

“The land in question has been acquired by the JDA and the acquisition has been upheld by the Supreme Court. It has been under the JDA’s physical possession,” Shekhawat told journalists.

“The question, therefore, narrows down to Khasra no. 188 and 194. Khasra no. 194, on which the hotel’s gates stand, has been in JDA’s possession on paper and physically. On the same Khasra, to the right of the hotel, is a public art installation and to the left a public park. So how does the land in the middle of these two belong to anyone else?” he said.

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The crux of Shekhawat’s explanation was that the government action was a routine administrative one, carried out to remove encroachment from a public property.

Asked if the issue could have been handled through talks with BJP MLA Diya Kumari — who tried to stop JDA commissioner Shikhar Agarwal from proceeding with the action — Shekhawat said there was no need for political consultation. “Should this sort of a routine administrative issue be dealt with at the political level? It was a routine exercise and formed part of the JDA’s continuing anti-encroachment drive,” he said.

The minister said the JDA was well within its rights to seal the gates. “It was completely legal and bona fide. We were just ensuring that our land is free from encroachment. It is a public property,” he said.

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The minister ruled out removing commissioner Agarwal, one of the key demands raised by the Jaipur royal family.

Diya’s mother Rajmata Padmini Devi led the protest rally from City Palace to Rajmahal Palace.

“We are basically objecting to the way the action was taken. If the government claims the land is theirs, they should have talked to us and we would have sorted it out and given it to them voluntarily,” Padmini Devi told journalists. “The chief minister is now back from Bhutan and we hope she will address this issue.”

First published on: 02-09-2016 at 03:07:33 am
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