Focus to be on alleged land grab by four parties

The Home Department on Thursday ordered the State Police Crime Branch to investigate the suspected large-scale land grab by private parties in Idukki district.

Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan told The Hindu that the land mafia there had enlisted the service of corrupt elements in the Revenue Department, fabricated documents, and misrepresented facts in court to cling on to land they had illegally appropriated from the government.

Their illegal activities had impeded the government’s initiative to provide arable land to landless citizens, chiefly those hailing from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities, and economically and socially backward classes.

Mr. Radhakrishnan had earlier ordered Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence, T.P. Senkumar to conduct a random assessment of the land grab pattern and the method of operation of the ‘land mafia’ in Idukki.

Special Branch report

The Special Branch had reported that the land grabbers had used fake documents, with the tacit connivance of certain corrupt Revenue officials, to obtain stay orders from courts as part of a well co-ordinated move to deter the State from repossessing the land stolen from it.

Moreover, the land grabbers had impeded or delayed police investigation against them. Resorts, plantations, and private colleges had come up in large tracts of thus ‘illegally appropriated’ government land in Idukki.

In the wake of the findings of the Special Branch, Mr. Radhakrishnan has ordered the constitution of a special investigation team (SIT) headed by Additional Director General of Police Vinson M. Paul, to inquire and charge-sheet all pending land grab cases in Idukki, and, also, if found necessary, register new cases.

SIT’s mandate

Home Department officials said the impending Crime Branch investigation would focus primarily on alleged land grabs by Vellikunnel Zachariah and Sons, the Thachankary Group, Kanjirathinkal Mohanan, and Reji Sebastian. The government has asked the Revenue Department to provide surveyors, equipment, and adequate staff to the SIT.

It has also asked Mr. Paul to generate reports to help government lawyers vacate the various stay orders obtained by the alleged land grabbers. The SIT’s charter also includes identifying and charge-sheeting the Revenue officials suspected of having abetted the land grab.

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