UGANDA, Gulu | Real Muloodi News | The Asian Community, through Ghanshaymbhai Patel, the chairperson of Bochasanwasi Akshar Purshottam Sanstha (BAPS), handed over contested Gulu Secondary School land to the government over the weekend. The Asians and the school have contended over this land since 1992.
Denis Hamson Obua, the State Minister of Education in charge of Sports, graced the ceremony. Obua said, “After a long-standing court battle, the two parties have now agreed that the school continues to use the land in perpetuity. They also handed over the original land titles and the certificates of transfer for the two plots of land to the government.”
He then added, “The handover was a fruit of a protracted negotiation spearheaded by the lawyers of the two parties and the minister of Education and Sports paid the accumulated rent arrears as one term of the contractual agreement.”
According to BAPS, the need to promote education caused their leaders to relinquish the land. They decided on this following the successful conclusion of out-of-court negotiations.
Ghanshaymbhai Patel said, “As BAPS, we accepted to donate the land to Gulu Secondary School to bring the contestation to an end since we can coexist with the school, we have all consented that part of the land currently being used by Gulu Secondary School remains theirs.”
He added, “We are very sure that our gesture and move will contribute to the future good, prosperity of not only the people of Gulu but the entire country since education of the young people is key.”
Denis Hamson Obua, State Minister of Education in charge of Sports, announced with glee that the Asian community had handed over the original land title and certificates for the two plots of land. He also said that the Ministry of Sports and Education had paid the accumulated rent arrears.
According to reports, the Ministry of Education and Sports paid about 560 million in rent arrears.
Besides the State Minister, the principal education officer, Richard Irwenyo, supported the move and stated that it would improve its educational standards.
He stated, “It has come timely, and it will go a long way in improving the education standards at the school which have in the past been affected by the wrangle.”
The school has over 2000 students, and the donation will ensure peace and new beginnings, according to Rt Bishop Onono Onwong, chairperson of the Board of Governors of Gulu Secondary School.
Bishop Onono Onwong stated, “It is high time the Church of Uganda, the founding body of this school, cultivates a functional relationship with the BAPS in serving the young generation who are learning in this school.”
The Genesis of the Contested Land
The Asian community bought the plot of land in 1963 under the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purshottam Sanstha (BAPS) to build a temple for worship.
However, following their expulsion in 1972, a community vocational and business school was founded on the land in 1973. The school, however, was taken over by the government and renamed Gulu Secondary School.
When the Asians returned to Uganda, the government gave BAPS the authority to recover the land through the Ministry of Finance in 1992. However, they couldn’t access and repossess their property.
This was because the land was being used for the public good as a secondary school.
BAPS then sought recourse via the courts, suing the institution and the Attorney General in September 2011.
However, the presiding judge urged the parties to seek mediation in 2012.
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