The bone of contention that led a Montessori school principal to open fire on Monday morning,resulting in the death of two persons near Park Street,is a plot of land worth around Rs 50 crore.
According to city builders,the appreciation rate of the 17-cottah (around 700 sq ft per cottah) land in Short Street has been phenomenal.
Documents show that on June 21 1999,the property was bought by a Mumbai-based company for Rs 9.5 lakh. In 2010,the current occupier,Ratan Lal,bought the property for Rs 1.5 crore. Later,it again changed hands and was reportedly bought by one Surekha,officially for more than Rs 3 crore.
The plot was sold at such a dirt-cheap rate because of the litigation… It was natural that the property would attract a lot of attention. The occupiers would not like to vacate it even if they are not entirely the legal owners, a reputed builder said.
Sources said that Ratan Lal had been told a long time ago that he was technically an illegal occupant and thus,has to vacate the land. But he did not and was currently running a Montessori school at the disputed site. Mamta Agarwal,who has been arrested,was the principal of the Montessori school.
Ratan Lal used to run a restaurant at that place but its licence was withdrawn. The Montessori school is also illegal as the Kolkata Municipal Corporation has refused to renew its licence for not adhering to norms, said property consultant.
Both the ventures first the restaurant and then a school could have been a facade,the real intention being to maintain control over the land, said another.
One of the parties reportedly involved is a builder who goes by the name Surekha. In an unusual coincidence,the office of a well known builder group,owned by a Pradeep Surekha,is located right opposite to the plot on Short Street.
When contacted,managing director of the group and former Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai) president,Pradeep Surekha,said: I have no idea who this Surekha is. He is definitely not related to me in any way.
Meanwhile,what has evoked interest of the investigators is that during interrogation,Mamta Agarwal has accused Kaushik Sen who had recently shifted from the Congress Sevadal to the Trinamool Congress of having an interest in the property and time and again threatening her with dire consequences. Agarwal has claimed that Sen had earlier asked her to vacate the land.
When contacted,Sen said,These allegations are baseless. She had,in fact,earlier threatened me with her gun when I went to the adjoining plot for my work. The woman was foul mouthed and ill-tempered.
Susmita Bhattacharya,councillor of ward 63,under which the plot falls,said she has never heard of any such thing. I saw it on TV and was as surprised as everyone else. My ward is very cosmopolitan and high-profile people live here. They do not want any unwanted intervention into their matters and I also keep my distance, she added.