SRINGERI: A scandal brewing over issuing fake land title deeds to beneficiaries in and around Sringeri is getting murkier by the day with the driver of a suspended tahsildar committing suicide on Saturday. It all started with the arrest of a village accountant, Siddappa, who had demanded Rs 60,000 as a bribe from a beneficiary to issue a title deed and was caught red handed by Anti-Corruption Bureau sleuths. In what then seemed to be a mere bribe-for-favour scandal soon snowballed into a major controversy with the alleged involvement of Tahsildar Ambuja and other top officials.
The ACB picked up Ambuja and remanded her to judicial custody. However, both Ambjua and Siddappa are now out on bail. Taking disciplinary action, the district administration suspended the two and also three other officials -- Satish, Shivakumar and Sandeep, who are now absconding.
During the inquiry, it was found that 617 title deeds issued by the taluk office were fake as lands from deemed forest and gomala have been shown as granted to beneficiaries. Adding to the mystery, the files concerning these shady deals have disappeared from the taluk office. Assistant Commissioner Dr HL Nagaraj conducted an inquiry into the missing files and submitted a report to Deputy Commissioner KN Ramesh.
The driver, Hegturu Vijeth (26), who committed suicide on Saturday, used to work for Ambuja. But his links to the scandal, if any, are not known yet, ACB officials said. Sringeri residents protested after his suicide and the police arrested Sharath, Raghavendra and Nagendra from the taluk office in connection with Vijeth’s death.