Officials of the Mangalore Special Economic Zone (MSEZ) and contractors hired by them allegedly violated a High Court stay order and forced their way into a disputed land at Kudubi Padavu area in Permude village with the help of the police and the district administration on Sunday.

The Karnataka High Court, through an interim order passed on January 29, imposed a stay on the entry into the 4.03-acre land belonging to four Kudubi families, led by Giriya Gowda (77), Lingappa Gowda (70), Krishna Gowda (55) and Vitappa Gowda (50). In their petition, the Kudubis have claimed that they had not been paid any compensation so far. A copy of the court order is available with The Hindu.

“When I tried to tell the officials that there is a High Court stay, I was pushed aside by the police,” Honnaiah (42), a tribal, told The Hindu. The officials then pulled down the fencing around the disputed land, said Honnaiah.

However, the clarifications given by the MSEZ spokesman, the Deputy Commissioner, the Superintendent of Police and the Inspector-General of Police (Western Range), appeared to be conflicting.

Ramchandra Bhandarkar from MSEZ said: “We have every right to enter the land and were given possession certificates by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board on January 27.” The company was not aware of the stay order, he said.

Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj said that the issue did not involve the MSEZ at all.

“The request for assistance to enter the disputed land was made by some of the local people themselves,” he said.

According to him, the land is jointly held by many parties and the dispute is among them. When it was pointed out to him that MSEZ officials were present during the alleged “forcible entry”, he said it had not come to his notice.

Superintendent of Police A.S. Rao said that the police were acting on the orders of the Deputy Commissioner. “Those who entered the land are from MSEZ. They have asked the entry to be under the supervision of the district’s Revenue officials and the protection of the police. The MSEZ advocate told me that the stay order applies only to the contractors of the company and not the company itself,” he said.

Inspector-General of Police (Western Range) Gopal B. Hosur said that the police had been instructed to abstain from assisting any further entry into the disputed land.

“It was not known that there is a stay order. But, it was the duty of the Government advocate keep all the parties informed about it,” he said.

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