The Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Crime Branch cracked a major land grabbing case of 1979 and exposed the involvement of a senior OAS officer along with his brother in the case.
The two accused have been identified as Phalguni Singh and his brother Sabyasachi Singh. Both have been accused of gaining possession of two acres of government land in Patia in 1979. “This was a blind case and we started with just a name ‘Sabyasachi Singh’. We did not have a face or address to begin and the case was more than 20 years old,” Crime Branch ADG B K Sharma told mediapersons.
A man by the name of Sarbeswar Singh, a landless labourer, asked the State Government for two acres of land in 1979 for agricultural purpose. But Sabyasachi, with the help of fraudulent records, modified the name of Sarbeswar and changed it to his own name in the same year. Incidentally, the State Government rejected the request of Sarbeswar Singh for the two-acre land.
But by that time, Sabyasachi had conveniently modified and changed all existing records of the application submitted by Sarbeswar in 1979 and forged the documents to pass the land as his own. The twist in the tale is Sabyasachi’s brother Phalguni Singh. Interestingly, Phalguni was the tahsildar of the district in 1979 and aided the forgery of document. Phalguni retired as the Additional Secretary of General Administration (GA) department (a department dealing majorly with land), a few years back.
After modifying the documents, Sabyasachi gave the power of attorney for the land to a man in Cuttack, identified by the Crime Branch officials as Bijay Kumar Pattnaik. Patnaik then sold the land to Odisha Construction and Techno Engineering Cooperative Society. The society then reportedly constructed housing units and sold them to customers. Senior Crime Branch officials said Phalguni was the main beneficiary from these illegal transactions.
“The State government found out about the land grabbing only in 2003. By then, around 80 per cent of the land had been occupied with the housing units. Even though the State government resumed the land in 2003, complete recovery of the land depends on the State Government,” informed Sharma. He also added that as they have unearthed more clues, it will lead them to similar land grabbing transaction that might have been done in the past.