A special investigation team probing allegations of irregularities in a Haryana government scheme meant to rehabilitate nomads and the underprivileged in Karnal district has uncovered instances of land allotted to children, some only seven years old, and people who already owned land.
In a probe status report, the SIT said officials of the revenue department “connived” and took “huge bribes” to clear illegal allotments in Pastana, Karnal. The allotments were made from 1984 to 2000.
The scheme for nomads, Scheduled Castes and Backward Castes involved distribution of more than 533 acres that once belonged to a dera, and was later declared surplus by the Haryana government.
In one case, a dera follower got chunks of land transferred in his own name and that of his three children, born in 1987, 1988 and 1991, the SIT said. The eldest child was made owner of 128 kanal, 10 marla of land in 1994 when he was only seven years old. The mutation of the land in the name of the children was done in 1995.
In its report, the SIT said the dera follower was the owner of 65 kanal, 14 marla. “His sons were minor at the time of allotment but still land was allotted to them. Besides this, he got 14 kanal 8 marla land… in the names of his brothers-in-law… who not only have ancestral land but (are also) running good business”.
The dera follower later sold the land allotted to his children and returned to his village where he died in 2002. His brothers-in-law too sold the land they were allotted, the SIT report stated.
Officials of the revenue department, in collusion with beneficiaries who were described as “nomads”, transferred chunks of land, the SIT said. “They were neither permanent residents of village Pastana nor nomads of this land. Still officers/employees of revenue department allotted land in their names after taking huge bribes,” the report stated.
A self-styled priest was another beneficiary. He also had land allotted to 10 relatives who were described as “nomads”. All sold their plots later. “The land, which he got allotted in the name of his relatives, was later on sold by his relatives for lakhs of rupees… relatives belong to upper caste and are rich landlords,” the SIT said.
In yet another case, 12 of a family were allotted land and one of them later “purchased land in district Fatehabad, Uttar Pradesh and district Sangrur in Punjab and constructed farm houses.”
A Haryana police officer told The Indian Express: “The SIT is conducting a thorough probe into the matter. All those found guilty will not be spared. Prima facie, a well-knit collusion between the land mafia and government officials has come to light.”
Complainant Maha Singh alleged that officials named in the SIT report as “required to be arrested” were still in key positions in Karnal and were hampering the probe