A Delhi-based non-profit organisation, Pleasant Valley Foundation, that had allegedly been cheated by a person into ‘buying' a huge tract of land in Uttarakhand, when the same did not even belong to the prime accused, has written to BJP leader L.K. Advani and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal that some influential State officials were now trying to obstruct the Delhi Police investigation into the matter.

The organisation has charged that the investigations by the Delhi Police in the case had revealed that over 30 persons had been duped in a similar manner by the accused on the promise of being sold small plots of land in the hill State at reasonable prices. Its representative said most complainants came forward only after this case got highlighted as jurisdiction issues dissuaded them from taking up the matter earlier.

Ms. Asha, a resident of 64, Delhi Government Officers Flats, Greater Kailash-I, had in July got an FIR registered at the Greater Kailash police station stating that she was the president of the Foundation and that it was interested in starting a charitable school for street children and rescued child labourers. The Foundation was looking for a suitable piece of land outside the National Capital Region and when one of the accused Chanchal Sethi of Vikas Puri came to know of these plans, she introduced her father and co-accused Chander Mohan Sethi, also a resident of Greater Kailash and a broker in sale and purchase of lands in Uttarakhand, to Ms. Asha.

The Foundation said because of the restrictions imposed on outsiders from purchasing land in Uttarakhand, it applied to the Government of Uttarakhand in 2007 for permission to purchase a tract of land in Dadakada village in Almora district of Uttarakhand. “Finally, on the basis of the Almora District Magistrate's report/recommendation” the Foundation was in December 2008 given permission to purchase the land.

Subsequently, the Foundation decided to register the land in the name of Chanchal Sethi, a native of Uttarakhand, by making her the authorised signatory for the purpose of executing the sale deed and other documents. It thus purchased 10 acres of land for a total consideration of Rs 59 lakh in the name of the accused persons with the understanding that the same would be later transferred in the name of the organisation.

But later the Foundation realised that “the accused had conspired together to defraud” it as the land details mentioned in the sale deed were fraudulent, “parts of which were not even owned by the accused”. Further it said, “the accused persons conspired to ensure that the mutation of the land does not take place in the name of the organisation.” The accused also avoided the transfer of the lands in the name of the organisation and even began selling them, the Foundation charged in the FIR.

Stating that the investigation by the police had revealed that over 30 people had been duped by the accused persons in similar land deals of various sizes, the new president of the Foundation Pradeep Kumar Singh has written to Mr. Advani that the police work was being obstructed by the criminal elements in the BJP-ruled State.

Naming a local criminal as the person blocking the probe, Mr. Singh alleged that an Additional Secretary in the State Government was also involved. This official's “family members and close kin own lands in the said village and have various land disputes in Almora courts,” he wrote.

Stating that this officer was the one who had signed the permission order of the Government of Uttarakhand that was issued to the Foundation, Mr. Singh said now “blackmail and extortion” were being resorted to extract more money from the organisation. A Delhi court has already ordered the father-daughter duo to submit their passports.

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