Monday, 29 July 2013

"Illegal realty Encroachment" thrives as law fails to rule out "Land mafia Terror".

Land rates have gone through the roof, and goons have found an easy way to make pots of money  encroach upon the site, demand a ransom to vacate it.

Radhakrishnan Nair (name changed), an NRI from Bangalore residing in the US, recently purchased a site at Ramamurthy Nagar for Rs40 lakh to build a house after his retirement.
But within a month he received a call from his friends in Bangalore informing him that someone had encroached upon his site and fenced it. A worried Nair rushed to Bangalore to find that the site had indeed been encroached upon. With great difficulty, he managed to contact the people who claimed the site’s ownership.
They told him the site belonged to them and even showed some documents to prove their claim. 
But the documents were found to be fake since the name entered as the first-party, shown as the seller, was wrong. The people who showed Nair the documents admitted the discrepancy, but demanded `6 lakh as settlement money for returning the site to Nair and assured him full protection from other encroachers.
“They told me that I can go to court, but will have to spend a huge sum of money and many years to get back my site,” Nair said.
“They said police won’t be able to help me since this is a civil dispute. Since I did not have the time and energy (to fight a court case), I agreed to their demands and paid them money. Since then, I have had no problem as the encroachers have become the protectors of my property.”
Nair’s case typically demonstrates how the land mafia functions in Bangalore. The much sought-after outlying areas - like Ramamurthy Nagar, Devanahalli, Doddaballabur, Yelahanka, Bommanahalli, Hosur Road etc - have become hotspots of property development on which the land mafia has maintained an eagle’s eye. If they don’t harm you, they will milk you financially by promising to protect your property; in worst case scenarios, they grab the land that legally is bought by the citizens with an eye on future development to retire in an independent house in peace.
Many times a citizen even decides against approaching the court fearing huge costs and the time taken to clear the case.
If your property is on the radar of the land mafia, there is hardly a way out.
Sources in the police department say many non-resident Bangaloreans with properties in the city are facing a similar problem.

Police helpless
Police, who admit to the existence of the racket in and around Bangalore, are helpless as the offence comes under civil disputes and the aggrieved parties have no option but to approach the court.
Additional commissioner of police (law and order), T Sunil Kumar, said that as per the 2008 guidelines, police have no reason to intervene in civil disputes unless a crime is committed. However, taking note of the fact that members of the land mafia may exploit this to further resort to encroachment, Kumar said the police have been asked to keep an eye out on such people and take stringent action under the Goonda Act if they indulged in such acts.
“We know such rackets exist,” a police officer from the east division, the hub of such activities, told DNA. “So, whenever we come across such incidents, we book them under the Goonda Act. But the problem is that people are afraid to file complaints against such goons (as they do not want to antagonise them) and agree to pay them protection money to resolve the issue at the earliest.”
Earlier, the police handled such cases, but the station in-charge officers virtually became mediators in settling the property rows, leading to more corruption.
Way out for mafia
In another case, a gangster from Bangalore South recently threatened a city-based businessman-cum-whistleblower, Farooq Mueen - who helped the Lokayukta nail KGF MLA Y Sampangi in a bribery case - after he tried to help his friend whose land had been encroached. “My friend’s land has been encroached,” said Mueen. “When we approached police, they suggested we go to court since it was a civil matter,” he added.
“On the other hand, the goons have been telling me to stay away from this and calling my friend to approach them for a settlement.”
Taking a note on this, the former police commissioner Ajai Kumar Singh had issued a circular to policemen not to get involved in civil disputes.
But although corruption declined on this front, several gangs, influential people and politicians started to resolve civil disputes as out-of-court settlements, milking the involved parties financially.
Senior police officials said the prevalent system has allowed several ways out for the land mafia, based on their nexus with powerful politicians. If there is a fear of the law coming down hard on them, they foresee an alternative way - what they call out-of-court-settlement - and exploit the parties to benefit themselves the most.
Problem’s root 
The fountainhead of the problem is the real-estate boom and the surge in demand for housing, residential sites. These have become vulnerable to encroachment or even re-sale - without the knowledge of genuine owners/buyers.
The middle class people are the most vulnerable to the operations of land mafia. While Mumbai and Dubai-based underworld dons, whose henchmen were active in the city about a decade ago, used to target vacant land at prime locations, the current land mafia - mostly local land sharks - is eyeing developing areas mainly on the outskirts of Bangalore.
For example, take the case of Maruthi Layout near Chinnappanahalli. The landlord had formed a ‘layout’ and sold all the sites a few years ago. “We bought the residential site five years ago,” says S Subramaniam, a software engineer. “We wanted to commence the construction work, but in vain. He (the landlord) is demanding more money on some pretext or the other. He is asking us to sell the site to him at a price fixed by him. We are not in a position to fight him.”
Buying residential sites owned by joint families has its own hazards. For example, many people who bought sites at A Narayanapura, are being harassed by landlords from Kaggadasapura. “They keep quiet till the site owners commence construction work,” said K Ashok, a real-estate dealer. “They create nuisance at the site if the owners refuse to pay money to them. They claim that the site belongs to them. It has become a business for many people not only at Kaggadasapura but also KR Puram, Ramamurthy Nagar and other areas.”
Recently, more than 100 people residing at a layout near Devasandra were denied access to the main road by the landlord of an adjacent layout. The landlord even damaged the road laid by Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).
Now residents have to depend on the mercy of the landlord since the person who sold sites to them is now not interested in coming to their aid. “We have become scapegoats between the two landlords,” said a resident on the condition of anonymity.
Mafia effect
Riding on the real estate boom due to the prospect of land rates going up in outlying areas where colossal infrastructure projects are on the line, even established and reputed companies have been found to be allegedly involved in grabbing of land.
Recently, Kirloskar Systems Limited, a city-based leading real estate company, has been accused of grabbing 10.3 acres of land belonging to a backward class family in Hebbala village on Bangalore north division. Sixty-year-old Muniyappa, a resident of Ramachandrapura, Harijan Colony in Yelahanka, has filed a complaint with the Amrutahalli police alleging that the company chairman and other board members of cheating, fraud and forgery on Saturday.
Muniyappa, in his complaint, said the 10 acre and 39 guntas of land at survey number 71, is ancestral property which was granted to his grandfather by the state government. The family is since then using the land for the source of their income and even the land records including Moola Hakku book (the title deed) and relevant documents have mentioned the name of the family members as the land owners.
The incident came to light when Muniyappa went to the jurisdictional sub-registrar office for some work, and found that the company has created and executed a sale deed and even got the land survey done.  The company later got the fresh records claiming that they are the owners of the land, Muniyappa said.
The land in question has neither encumbered in anyone’s favour nor the family executed the sale deed to anyone’s favour, he said in his complaint.
Muniyappa approached the SC/ST legal cell seeking advice and while the matter is pending, the company tried to dispose of the land, after threatening the family members with dire consequences to force them to vacate the premises, Muniyappa alleged.
When Muniyappa approached the jurisdictional police, he was sent back with an advice to go to the court since it’s a civil dispute.
Based on the advice of the police, Muniyappa approached the city metropolitan magistrate who directed the jurisdictional Amrutahalli police to investigate the case, and submit a report

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