On MP-Maharashtra border officio-middlemen nexus grabs Bhoodan land from tribal farmers

Tribal families have lost their land under the pretext of a special economic zone coming up on 8000-plus acres land in Chhindwara district.
Land fraud victim farmer Laxman Uike with son and wife at their house in Satnur village in MP's Chhindwara district. (EPS)
Land fraud victim farmer Laxman Uike with son and wife at their house in Satnur village in MP's Chhindwara district. (EPS)

SATNUR (CHHINDWARA): At a time when the Narendra Modi-led Central government is reportedly planning a second Bhoodan drive for 300 million landless Indians by 2018, tribal families in BJP ruled Madhya Pradesh have lost their Bhoodan land allegedly to a nexus of government officials-lawyer-middlemen under the pretext of a special economic zone (SEZ) coming up on 8000-plus acres land in Chhindwara district.

Cops in Chhindwara (Madhya Pradesh’s largest district) are on the lookout for seven accused, including a revenue department sub-registrar, his wife, a lawyer and a bunch of middlemen, who allegedly duped two tribal farmers in 2013 to transfer their four acres land in the name of accused registrar’s brother-in-law.

Incidentally, entire four acres land in Satnur village on MP-Maharashtra border was allotted to the two Gond tribe farmers Shyamrao Dhurve and Laxman Uike in late 1970s by the MP government out of the wide pool of land attained after Acharya Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodan Movement of 1951.

While the alleged land fraud has already seen Shyamrao Dhurve die in 2015 out of the shock of losing the only piece of land he owned without a single penny in return, 60-year-old Laxman Uike has lost all hopes of getting his land back or money for the lost land.

“Entire land fraud is masterminded by a lawyer of the SEZ developers identified as Harish Agre. He knew it fully well that as per law land owned by the scheduled caste or scheduled tribe cannot be sold to a non-SC/ST individual, which is why he colluded with the sub-registrar of Sausar tehsil RP Markam to get the four acres land registered in March 2013 in the name of registrar’s brother-in-law Manoj Taram, a native of MP’s Balaghat district,” said Lodikhera police station in-charge GS Uike, who is probing the fraud after lodging case of cheating, fraud and criminal conspiracy against the eight accused.

The probe till now has revealed that two middlemen Dhanraj Kamone and Sudhakar Parte met with the two tribal farmers in March 2013 and convinced them to transfer their land for the SEZ coming up in land spread in eight villages of MP’s Chhindwara district along the border with Maharashtra’s Nagpur.

“The SEZ lawyer Harish Agre subsequently met the two tribal family heads and convinced them for transferring the land for the SEZ for which they would be paid in years to come. Both illiterate farmers had no clue that they were selling off their land to sub registrar RP Markam’s brother-in-law Manoj Taram,” the Lodikhera police station in-charge told the New Indian Express.

According to Shrawan Uike, the physically challenged son of victim farmer Laxman, “My father and I were taken in a vehicle to the Sausar tehsil on March 25, 2013 where we were made to put the thumb impression on documents which contained Manoj Taram’s pictures. Entire exercise took place in the presence of sub registrar RP Markam, advocate Harish Agre, patwari Shiv Kumar Bhojne at 6 pm, an hour after the official closure of the tehsil office for the day.”

While the 1.5 acres land owned by Laxman whose market value in 2013 stood at over Rs 5.5 lakh was sold to Manoj Taram for a meagre Rs 75,000, over 2.5 acres worth Rs 9 lakh-plus land owned by Shyamrao Dhurve was sold to Manoj Taram the next day for a mere Rs 1.5 lakh.

“But none of the two families have got any money till date and do not have anything to fall back upon after losing their land to the criminal nexus of fraudsters,” the Lodhkhera police station in-charge added.

The land grabbed from the two farmers by fraudsters was subsequently sold to Chhindwara Plus Developers Private Limited, the Nagpur-based developers of the ambitious SEZ project.

The four acres land grabbed from the two farmers were sold to the SEZ developers for over Rs 32.46 lakh in April 2015 and the money transferred into Manoj Taram’s account in Central Bank. In May 2015, Rs 12 lakh was transferred from Manoj’s account into advocate Harish Agre’s bank account. Further Rs 10 lakh was transferred from Manoj’s account to his sister Mamta Markam (sub registrar RP Markam’s wife) account in December 2015.

The police investigations have revealed that the farmers came to know about the fraud only when the developers of the SEZ started fencing the land in 2015. “Since 2016, we have been raising the issue with administrative officials and the police, but none helped us. It was in March 2017 that the new SP of Chhindwara district Gaurav Tiwari took immediate cognisance of our complaint, leading to lodging of the case against the eight accused,” said Shrawan Uike.

“Acting on the matter, we have got the multiple bank accounts operated by the accused frozen. While Manoj Taram has been arrested, efforts are on to arrest the remaining accused, including the fraud mastermind advocate, the sub-registrar and his wife, besides the patwari and middlemen, who are on the run,” Chhindwara SP Gaurav Tiwari said.

“We are also making efforts to ensure that the fraud victim farmers get the due money, added Tiwari.

Interestingly, the 2010 batch IPS officer Gaurav Tiwari, is accredited with busting the Rs 2000 crore-plus alleged hawala scam as SP in Katni district in 2016. The scam which is presently under ED scanner led to major political controversy pertaining to close aides of mining baron-turned-MP minister Sanjay Pathak, eventually leading to Tiwari being shifted as SP of Chhindwara in January 2017.

According to Lodikhera police station in-charge GS Uike, the investigations into the alleged fraud could lead to a much bigger scam involving more such victim families. “We have found that much larger tract of land in Kodadongri village was registered in sub registrar RP Markam’s wife Mamta’s name in 2013-14 and later sold to the SEZ developers for Rs 61 lakh. Investigations into it could lead to much bigger land scam of Bhoodan movement lands,” said Uike.  

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express