Monday, December 13, 2010

A. Raja now at centre of land grab

Former telecom minister A Raja, already facing the 2G-spectrum storm, is now at the centre of an emerging land scam in his constituency Peremabulur in Tamil Nadu. He has been accused of helping his family and friends grab land a very low prices. About 250 farmers have alleged that Green House Promoters, in which his wife and brother were directors till recently, had coerced and tricked them into selling their land at prices varying between 3% and 16% of market rates.

Green House managing director Sadiq Batcha, Raja’s close business associate, was questioned by the Central Bureau Investigation in the 2G spectrum scam, as he was suspected of laundering part of the money received as bribes in the Rs 1.76 lakh crore 2G scam.

Raja has been accused of using the district administration to put pressure on the farmers. N Chelladurai of the CPI (M)-backed Tamil Nadu Vyava-sayigal Sangham cited the example of Senthil (32), a farmer who owned 3.5 acre.

Senthil was arrested and remanded in judicial custody in a false case and the police repeatedly offered to quash the case if he agreed to sell his land. Finally, he had to give in.

But district collector N Vijaykumar told Hindustan Times that the government could not interfere in dealings between two private parties. “If, indeed, force or coercion has been used, I would strongly advise them (the farmers) to file a criminal complaint.”

IMO: Of course we had  somewhat similar problems with Lalu Prasad but he is still going strong. In the present case it is particularly unfortunate that the law should apparently be badly  misused. One way or another, things should be improved. And I am not sure that, generally speaking, formal complaints are the answer. So often they are simply ignored and a more direct approach is needed. But circumstances often indicate the best approach. The end result at Nandigram and Singur, for example, was far from perfect but enormously better than no result at all for many people.

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