The Special Cell on Land Grab of Salem City Crime Branch named on Tuesday Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam strongman and former Agriculture Minister Veerapandi S. Arumugam as accused no.1 in the Angammal Colony land grab case. The case relates to alleged grabbing of 22,000 sq.ft. of land.
Cases under Sections 147, 148, 447, 386, 109 read with 506 (ii) and 467 of Indian Penal Code and 3 (1) of Tamil Nadu Public Properties Damages Act, 1994 have been registered.
Along with Mr. Arumugham, 12 others, including his close relative and Salem District Panchayat Vice-Chairman K Sureshkumar (also an accused in the murder of six members of the family of retired police inspector Kuppuraj here), a close associate Koushika Boopathy, former Salem Revenue Divisional Officer V. Balagurumurthy and an Inspector under suspension, K. Lakshmanan, have also been named as accused.
Police have already arrested three other accused — M. A. D. Krishnaswamy, former Salem Urban district Congress president, Kanakaraj and Auto Murugan. Police “are in search of others including Mr. Arumugam.”
About 31 families, including complainant K. Ganesan, who were living in Angammal Colony situated in the heart of the city for more than 80 years on 22,000 sq.ft. of land that belonged to a private trust were forcefully evicted by some persons on the grounds that the land had been purchased by a person “very close” to the family of Mr. Arumugam in 2007-2008.
The evicted people claimed that the trust management had given them the land as “gift' in 1959 for which they had documentary evidence. They alleged that the men had forged documents and grabbed their land.
A series of agitations and protests were held against the land grab. A spate of writ petitions had also been filed of which a few were still pending before the Madras High Court. The AIADMK government had sought a status report from Salem city police on the issue after which the investigation in the case began. After conducting a preliminary investigation, police filed the FIR on Tuesday.