Petitions pouring in at land grabbing cells
Fake documents, coupled with muscle or money power, have played a dominant role in land grabbing offences reported across the State. In a majority of cases in different cities and districts, police found that bogus documents were used to register property or create an encumbrance in revenue records.
The Land Grabbing Cells established in all Commissionerates and districts have evoked an overwhelming response with hundreds of petitions pouring in since the day it was set up a fortnight ago.
Complaints pouring in
With the number of complaints on the rise, police have strengthened manpower and infrastructure in the cells.
Action against land grabbers and rendering justice to the victims was one of the promises made by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa during her election campaign. The initiative to establish Land Grabbing Cells has come as a great relief to victims whose complaints were earlier brushed aside as ‘civil disputes', a police official said.
Though most of the petitioners had lodged complaints earlier, it appears that action was not taken due to various reasons.
“Where it is evident that fake documents were created to take over properties, the question of civil dispute does not arise...it is a clear case of cheating. The process of restoring property to victims has begun. However, the criminal case against accused persons will be pursued,” he added.
In the North Zone of Tamil Nadu, Inspector General of Police C. Sylendra Babu said each district had formed a team of 12 police personnel headed by an officer in the rank of Additional Superintendent of Police to handle complaints of land grabbing. Every district has been given an exclusive mobile phone number to receive complaints round-the-clock.
Since most of the complaints pertained to forgery or impersonation, police were taking the assistance of Revenue Department officials, forensic experts and document specialists in the process of investigation.
Explaining how a gang used bogus documents and restrained the legitimate owner from entering his property for several months in Tiruvallur, Mr. Babu said police arrested the accused persons and restored the 12-acre land worth about Rs. 9 crore to the rightful owner.
“They created bogus documents and took over the property. The owner was evicted and threatened against entering the premises. There was not much of action on the complaint lodged by the victim on an earlier occasion,” he said.
In Arani (Vellore district), Mr. Babu said a land owner who gave power of attorney to a former MLA's son was allegedly cheated. “He has given a complaint that after the property was sold for Rs. 2 crore, the accused gave him only Rs. 10 lakh. About 35 persons have been arrested in 62 cases so far in the North Zone comprising six districts.”
According to the Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) S. George, about 110 cases were registered and more than 1,000 petitions were being examined by Land Grabbing Cells in the State.
“Many poor families have lodged complaints that their only property was forcibly taken over by land grabbers. Police will take action as per law,” he said.
In Tiruchi Range that comprises of Tiruchi, Karur, Perambalur, Pudukottai and Ariyalur districts, police have received 166 complaints of land grabbing.
In Tiruchi district alone, 96 complaints were received, most of which pertained to forceful occupation of property by anti-social elements who used fake documents.
“We are enquiring into every complaint and FIR is registered when a prima facie offence is made out. Police have been told to ensure that innocent people are not harassed in anyway. Where a legitimate owner has been cheated and evicted from his/her property, we will ensure that justice is done,” Deputy Inspector General of Police A. Amalraj said.
He said in some cases accused persons created a fake Power of Attorney relating to a property and managed to register it. “This will reflect in the document when someone goes for a ‘no encumbrance certificate'. They would then force the owner to sell the property.” Mr. Amalraj said Inspector General of Police (Central Zone) K.C. Mahali was reviewing the work of Land Grabbing Cells on a daily basis.
“Where habitual offenders come to notice, instructions have been given to detain them under the Goondas Act. In a few cases, real estate agents, politicians and officials colluded and conspired to commit the crime,” he said.