Previously helpless, they are now confidently approaching Land Grabbing Cells

An analysis of complaints lodged in Land Grabbing Cells across the State reveals that some realtors, backed by musclemen, targeted vulnerable people and forced them to part with their property. The victims, who were possibly threatened and remained silent for months, are now showing up with complaints.

As complaints pour in, police are examining the modus operandi adopted by accused persons to take over lands or houses. Among those who became victims were vulnerable people like senior citizens and widows.

“Many aggrieved widows and senior citizens who could not pursue cases against land grabbers as they had no influence or support of any kind are now approaching the police with confidence. We are planning to add some women police personnel to the Land Grabbing Cells,” Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) S. George said. On Thursday, 60-year-old Pappa of Tirumangalam in Madurai district lodged a complaint with the police that some bigwigs of a political party forced her to sell her property worth about Rs. 4 crore for a paltry sum of Rs. 40 lakh. “We have examined the petition and issued summons to the accused to appear in the District Crime Branch for enquiry on Saturday. The senior citizen says she was threatened to sell her property,” Superintendent of Police Asra Garg said.

In another case, a widow's prime property located near the Mannar Tirumalai Naicker Mahal in Madurai was forcibly taken over by some persons. After running around police stations for months, the victim lodged a complaint with the Land Grabbing Cell on Monday. After perusing the documents, police registered a case and initiated the process of restoring the property to the woman, police sources said.

According to Inspector General of Police (North Zone) C. Sylendra Babu, of the 19 complainants in land grabbing cases registered in six districts, nine were either widows or senior citizens whose children were working abroad. Ten others who were cheated are traditional agriculturists, he said.

After the creation of Land Grabbing Cells, a handful of accused persons who earlier remained unyielding and elusive were now volunteering to settle disputes. “In one instance, a software professional paid Rs. 35 lakh to a builder to buy a flat near Tambaram. However, the builder did not register the flat in her name citing various reasons and also refused to return the money. Knowing that the woman lodged a complaint with the police a couple of days ago, the accused returned her money within hours,” Mr. Babu said.

In a case reported in Ramanathapuram district, a farmer purchased 480 acres of land in Paramakudi for cultivating Jatropha seeds. Some persons created fake documents and transferred the property to a different name and were preparing to sell it. The owner who came to know of the ploy lodged a complaint with the police. “We have formed a special team to investigate this case. Firm action is being taken against those found guilty of land grabbing. K.R. Viswanathan, who indulged in three cases in Chennai and Ramanathapuram district and threatened to murder one of the complainants, was detained under the Goondas Act,” Ramanathapuram Superintendent of Police Anil Kumar Giri said.

Temple land restored

While perusing complaints, the Kancheepuram police stumbled upon one lodged by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR and CE) Department that said 46 acres of land belonging to the Sri Adikesava Perumal and Sri Bashya Kara Swami Devasthanam in Sriperumbudur were sold illegally to private persons.

After going through the documents, police found that one of the temple trustees Ram Prabanna Chary had sold 30 acres of the land located on the Sriperumbudur-Tiruvallur Road to two private parties while another trustee, Damodara Das Mahanta, gave another 16 acres to a medical trust on lease. Members of the medical trust used a Power of Attorney to transfer the property to their name. “We registered a case and summoned both the trustees for enquiry. While Chary cancelled the sale deed and returned the 30-acre land to the temple, Mahanta is yet to appear before us. We suspect that the Power of Attorney is a fake one. Any sale of temple property without the consent of the HR and CE Commissioner is null and void as per the HR and CE Act, 1959,” Kancheepuram Superintendent of Police S. Manoharan said.

Seek anticipatory bail

Staff Reporter from Madurai writes:

Members of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, including Madurai urban district secretary, G. Thalapathi, and close aides of Union Fertilizer Minister M.K. Alagiri, have sought anticipatory bail from the principal district sessions court here, fearing arrest in a land grabbing case.

In a complaint lodged with the police, a couple, hailing from Venkadasamuthram near Tirumangalam, accused several key members of the party in Madurai of cheating and usurping their land worth Rs. 5 crore. N. Suresh Babu, central committee member, S R Gopi, ‘Thaimookambigai' Sethuraman, Tirumangalam union chairman K Chandrasekaran, Tirunagar town panchayat chairperson K. Indira Gandhi and her husband Krishnasamy filed anticipatory bail petitions, denying charges against them.

Villagers demand action

Theni Staff Reporter writes:

Residents of Ammapuram village in Periakulam taluk thronged the Collectorate here on Friday morning demanding action against a person who grabbed 26.5 acres of a temple land by creating bogus documents.

In a petition submitted to Collector K.S. Palanisamy, the villagers alleged that a resident of Vadapudhupatti created bogus documents and registered the temple land in the name of his three daughters. The petitioners complained that the land was fully fenced and local people were prevented from entering it or using them for conducting temple festivals.

The villagers had been conducting temple festival on the land for the past 150 years, the petition said.

DMK functionary held

Special Correspondent from Coimbatore writes:

The Coimbatore City Police have arrested DMK functionary M. Siva alias Meenkadai Siva (50) of Varadarajapuram and his “associate” D. Sasikala (55), wife of Damodaran of Ondipudur, on charges of usurping a property. The cell is investigating the complaints under the instructions of Commissioner of Police – Coimbatore City Amaresh Pujari, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime and Traffic) S. Nizamuddin and under the direct supervision of Assistant Commissioner of Police – City Crime Branch M. Selvarajan.

S. Sasikala, wife of late Srinivasan of Ondipudur, preferred a complaint stating that her property i.e., a house on more than 6 cents on a prime location, was usurped. It is learnt that initially her sister-in-law, D. Sasikala, planned to acquire the property valued at Rs 1 crore. She with her “associates” Manoharan, Raja, Siva alias Meenkadavi Siva and Gayathri Balan tried to evict S. Sasikala and her son from the house. Based on a complaint, a case was registered against all of them under sections 120 B (Conspiracy), 406 (Criminal Breach of Trust), 420 (Cheating) and 506 (i) (criminal intimidation) of Indian Penal Code.

The land grabbing cell of the Coimbatore Rural Police on Friday slapped three cases of land grabbing, one of which was against Madanagopal, brother of DMK functionary E. Anandan (District Panchayat Vice-Chairman) who is in judicial custody for three cases of cheating.

Police sources said that Madanagopal and two others were involved in misusing and forging a power of attorney in usurping 30 plots.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National