Mr. Balakrishnan (SP) said that the camp was held to help the victims who had lost their land and houses.

It was a special camp organised by the Madurai rural district police seeking petitions from people who had lost their houses and agricultural land to the greedy granite quarry operators in Madurai district.

But, among the early birds to join in the queue to hand over petitions to the Superintendent of Police, V. Balakrishnan, on Saturday were a handful number of police personnel. While some of them were in the civvies, few others were in their khakis.

The police personnel had come there to complain against PRP Granites for having allegedly forcing them to sell their residential plots for a paltry sum. “Against our will, huge boulders and granite waste were dumped on our land and the access to the land was blocked,” said a Sub-Inspector of Police, S. Santha Marimuthu.

The police personnel had got their plots in Jangid Nagar, facilitated by the then Madurai city Commissioner of Police, S.R. Jangid, near Tirumogur. A total of 240 plots were sold to police personnel up to the rank of Inspector of Police. “We bought it for Rs. 35,000 a cent in 2001, but were forced to sell it for just Rs. 40,000 a cent after four years. Four houses constructed on the land were damaged due to quarrying in close quarters,” Mr. Marimuthu said.

Brokers on prowl

The probe into the irregularities of granite quarry in the district by the Madurai district administration and the district police entering the second month, a group of women, who had their houses in Gundakal, complained that they found brokers of granite operator roaming near the District Police Office, where the special camp was held.

M. Ramalakshmi said that employees of one of the operators had forced the men of Gundakal to part with their land and houses for a throwaway price without the knowledge of their family members some five years back.

“They have taken over 32 houses in their village along with an anganwadi, overhead tank and a temple. When we objected to selling the houses, first our houses were stoned. There were blasts nearby our houses. Still as we did not budge, unidentified men started entering our houses in the nights. With children in home, we had to run away to protect our honour,” she said.

“On two occasions, when we tried to complain with the district Collector on the Monday petition days, brokers of the granite operator prevented us. We were taken back home in vans,” K. Shanti, said. The women added that some brokers were seen near the District Police Office. “We rushed into the office, before we could be prevented from complaining once again,” another woman said.

A middle-aged woman, P. Pandiammal, complained that the Public Works Department channel irrigating here 1.15 acres of land in Keezhaiyur was damaged when she refused to sell the land. “With no irrigation, I tried to plant coconut saplings. The saplings were damaged in the nights and boulders placed on the land,” she said. Scores of men and women, had turned up at the DPO for the special camp.

Mr. Balakrishnan said that the camp was held to help the victims who had lost their land and houses. The granite operators had adopted different means to force the landlords sell their land. They had blocked the pathway to the agricultural land. “They used to block the water channels and stop irrigation. Or else dump the granite waste on their land. In some cases, they had threatened the landlords by blasting explosives in the nearby areas,” he said.

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