And the land grab goes on: Now, 26 hectares of land leased by govt to tribals and farmers

Acquired for resort being built by firm of Chhattisgarh Minister’s wife, son

Written by Dipankar Ghose | Raipur | Updated: August 1, 2017 10:26 am
chhattisgarh, forest land to build resort, chhattisgarh forest dept, indian express Responding to the findings of The Indian Express, Minister Agrawal said that his family had not violated any laws and that he had not used “my government position to get any work done”. (File photo)

Apart from acquiring 4.12 hectares of forest land and encroaching upon 13.90 hectares of government land to build a resort, Chhattisgarh Minister Brijmohan Agrawal’s family acquired an additional 26.83 hectares of “patta” land, given on lease by the government to farmers and tribals, records examined by The Indian Express show.

Records show that the revenue court under the Mahasamund District Collector is now looking into this acquisition, with some of those who sold their land alleging in sworn testimonies that they were forced to do so either because their tracts had already been encroached upon, or out of fear.

Of this “patta” land, records show, 2.35 hectares was acquired by Abhishek Agrawal, son of Brijmohan Agrawal, through five different transactions, and 11.82 hectares by Aditya Srijan Pvt Ltd — a company in which Abhishek and Agrawal’s wife Sarita Agrawal are directors.

Responding to the findings of The Indian Express, Minister Agrawal said that his family had not violated any laws and that he had not used “my government position to get any work done”. However, records show that on May 15 this year, the Mahasamund tehsildar wrote to the District Collector, documenting 49 instances of acquisition of government “patta” land, totalling 26.83 hectares. The subject line of the letter read: “In connection with the illegal buying and selling of land and corruption in village Sirpur.” Also Read | Besides buying forest land, Chhattisgarh minister wife also encroached on 13.9 hectares of govt land | Click here

Records show that two other associates, listed as Arjun Singh and Abhiman Sunani, also acquired part of the land under the scanner, with the transactions registered between August 2008 and November 2015. In his letter, the tehsildar wrote, “From the report from the patwari dated May 5, it is clear that under the Chhattisgarh Land Revenue Act 1959, section 165, clause 7(a), this land can only be transferred after permission of the Collector, or a revenue officer of the rank of the Collector, with a written explanation, or it cannot be given. The sold land is documented as government land. Therefore, this is being forwarded to the Collector, Mahasamund for action under the Land Revenue Act 1959, section 165, clause 7(a).” Also Read | Chhattisgarh minister’s wife buys state forest land to build a resort, his dept says we can do nothing | Click here

When contacted by The Indian Express, Himshikhar Gupta, Collector, Mahasamund, said, “I would only like to say that it is under court procedure right now, and we are following that procedure.”

Speaking to The Indian Express on Monday, Minister Brijmohan Agrawal said, “Right now, there is an environment (against me). After this ends, I will give a point-wise answer. I have asked for many documents. After I get them, I will clear the air. There has been an investigation into this for eight years, why are notices emerging only now? This is being promoted from somewhere, and there is an attempt to defame me. Television channels have gone to the village and they (the villagers) have said that they are happy that this project is coming up and is bringing development. We have not put pressure on or troubled anyone. I have not used my government position to get any work done.” Also Read | ‘Kuch dalal aaye the… later, I found that mantriji bought the land’ | Click here

But records show that following the letter from the tehsildar, the land acquisition was taken up by a revenue court under the Collector, which issued notices to the villagers who sold the “patta” land and recorded the statements of some of them.

One of them, Premdas, stated in his court testimony on July 3: “I sold my land to Gajanand Patel, who was the sarpanch of Jalki and Chaporadih villages. They said that the people next of my land had sold the land, and they would not let me enter my land, which is why I sold (it)… I sold the land for Rs 30,000 an acre, and got Rs 60,000 for my two acres of land.” Also Read | Chhattisgarh Minister says didn’t know status, records say otherwise | Click here

Another, Rajaram Marar, stated on July 3: “My land had been bricked-off by Minister Brijmohan Agrawal, and my land was within this boundary. It was at that time that Gajanand Patel came to make a deal. Because it was within the encroachment and I needed to get my son and daughter married, I needed the money. Which is why I sold the land. I received Rs 30,000 for the land.”

A third villager, Parvati Gadha, stated on July 3: “After the death of my husband, Gajanand Patel came to me and said that he needed a photograph for my appointment (to a government job) on compassionate grounds, and that I should sign on a piece of paper. Fake documents were made and my land was sold. I thought that the paper was for my appointment on compassionate grounds, which is why I signed the letter.”

Among those who submitted sworn testimonies on July 3 was Dukhmat, a woman belonging to the Kamar tribe, one of the seven listed under the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group category by the Chhattisgarh government. Also Read | Will return land if anomalies in deal proved, says BJP minister | Click here

“I sold my land to Abhiman Sunani. I got a total of Rs 10,000 for my (0.61 hectares) land. I have only taken the money that I received for the land. I went to the registrar’s office to register my land. I did not take permission from the Collector to sell the land. I sold this land because of fear, and that it was falling in the Minister’s land. I have no objection if the transfer of this land is cancelled,” she stated.

Last Wednesday, The Indian Express had reported that Sarita Agrawal had bought 4.12 hectares of land, which was donated by a farmer Vishnu Sahu to the Water Resources Department in 1994 and then transferred to the Forest Department, for the resort near Jalki village in Mahasamund.

On Monday, this newspaper reported that 13.90 hectares of government land had also been encroached upon the resort, which is under construction, by Aditya Srijan Pvt Ltd — and that the tehsildar had sent notices to the company in March red-flagging the violation.

The resort project came under the scanner following a complaint from a whistleblower to the Prime Minister’s Office on December 2, 2016. Also Read | Chhattisgarh govt, Minister worked to upgrade village that has wife’s resort | Click here

Apart from referring to the acquisition and encroachment, the complaint also documented the sale of “patta” land. “To remove small farmers and adivasis from their land, either through temptation or otherwise, is not just a violation of the Revenue Act, but can also affect the outcome of the 2018 Vidhan Sabha elections, as well as the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and from the viewpoint of adivasi support can be detrimental. Therefore, an enquiry must be ordered,” it stated.

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  1. S
    sahil
    Aug 1, 2017 at 3:52 pm
    this cannot be corruption as it is done by jhandelwalan's foot soldiers, they should be given an award
    Reply
    1. D
      Damodar Biswal
      Aug 1, 2017 at 12:33 pm
      Mr.Dipankar Ghose,thank u for bringing to light the land grabbing incident of Chhattisgarh.All illegal land acquired by the minister n his family should be returned to the Govt. n appropriate action should be taken. If necessary,the minister concerned may be sacked.But one thing I failed to understand.I regularly read IE.But have never come across an article or a report from u about land grabbing by Lalu family or the Bhadras.Why? Is it not biased reporting?Please be impartial while reporting about any case.
      Reply
      1. S
        Soma mitra
        Aug 1, 2017 at 1:22 pm
        Lalu's cases are already in the court .They are under trial N bail .. it was there N those days news papers .. I believe it was brought out by the media itself
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        1. P
          Parth Garg
          Aug 1, 2017 at 1:58 pm
          Mr Ghose has also failed to write an article on how Venkaiah Naidu's wife got the wealth at Rs. 10 Crore declared by him in his election affidavit [ the real price of which could be 10 times more]. He has also not written about the source of income and investment of Amit Shah and family. You must protest this as well.
          Reply
          1. P
            Pradeep Raghavan
            Aug 2, 2017 at 12:30 pm
            Mr. Dipankar Ghose should also report on how Amit Shah's assets grown to 300 in last 5 years.
            Reply
            1. C
              Chandu Shah
              Aug 2, 2017 at 7:42 pm
              And what about Vadra?
              Reply
            2. T
              Tomar
              Aug 1, 2017 at 11:49 am
              After so much evidence also, I wonder where are our IT, ED, CBI? I hope they will soon conduct raids on this BJP minister, just like they conduct raids on critics of BJP on much less evidence.
              Reply
              1. D
                Damodar Biswal
                Aug 1, 2017 at 12:38 pm
                The problem is ,nobody is prepared to believe a biased report.However,if the minister has made illegal land acquisition ,he should be sacked n enquiry against him ordered.If after confirmation about the illegal grabbing of land,appropriate action is not taken, BJP's hypocrisy will be brought to the people's court.
                Reply
                1. S
                  Soma mitra
                  Aug 1, 2017 at 1:23 pm
                  Y do u think it's a biased report ?
              2. M
                Malkit Singh
                Aug 1, 2017 at 11:24 am
                Where is our honest PM, what is happening in Chhatishgarh. BJP is claiming height of honesty during election time and our PM is not tired to speak against dishonesty of his rivals. What is the view of our Prime Minister about Shri Brijmohan Aggarwal. These BJP leaders all over India are greedy and hungry. They can grab the land of even Rashatpati Bhavan on the name nationalism and patriotism but they still claim they are honest and in heritage of Raja Harish Chander. In politics our elected leaders are looting our India Prevailing law in India is only for the lower middle or down trodden people and present law cannot prosecute the persons like Brijmohan Aggarwal as these people are mighter than existing laws. Recently Chief of BJP from Kerala was caught taking bribe of Rs 6 crores. We people of India are definitely waiting for change and get rid from this communal hatred and poisoned people who are elected by us on the division of votes, black money power and religion.
                Reply
                1. A
                  Archie
                  Aug 1, 2017 at 10:41 am
                  All BJP ministers are "bhooke-nange" variety. First they will fill their own pockets and the nation be d a m n e d !!
                  Reply
                  1. J
                    JD
                    Aug 1, 2017 at 10:20 am
                    Desperate attempt by a desperate media to create a scam
                    Reply
                    1. S
                      Soma mitra
                      Aug 1, 2017 at 10:49 am
                      Say ..honest attempt to bring out a scam into light . Y do u try to be a hypocrate ..u Honey singing goon of Bjp ... Be honest to urself .U are paid for writing comments .But it shudnt be Misleading . ....
                      Reply
                      1. B
                        Bharat Maa
                        Aug 1, 2017 at 11:20 am
                        only blind bhakt like you only can not see the irregularities. oh after all they are your feku gurus so you have to defend them. ground reality for you means nothing because you are blind. atleast believe the words of your fekus how are atleast saying that they are investigating.
                        Reply
                        1. V
                          Ved Raman
                          Aug 1, 2017 at 12:58 pm
                          Grab while you can.
                          Reply
                          1. P
                            P.C.Kulkarni
                            Aug 1, 2017 at 2:30 pm
                            Bhakts like you should stick to Toi, Z news, Times now republic
                            Reply
                          2. P
                            P.C.Kulkarni
                            Aug 1, 2017 at 9:58 am
                            If such a thing was done by an AAP minister, he would have already landed in jail
                            Reply
                            1. B
                              Bharat Maa
                              Aug 1, 2017 at 11:21 am
                              rightliy said.
                              Reply
                            2. H
                              H Sarkar
                              Aug 1, 2017 at 9:48 am
                              "I have not used my Govt. position to buy the land" ... HAHAHAHAHAHAHA... What a jock.. and what a ASS..
                              Reply
                              1. B
                                Bharat Maa
                                Aug 1, 2017 at 11:22 am
                                joke of the year. and Shah heritated all the money from his mother, lie of the year.
                                Reply
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