Unearthing a major land mafia racket,the Malwani police on Monday arrested 15 people for allegedly duping government to the tune of nearly Rs 150 crore by selling land illegally.
The Malwani police on a suo moto action arrested the 15,including four women,for constructing more than 20,000 illegal shanties and selling them by forging ownership documents in the Ambujwadi area in Malwani number 8 at Malad west.
According to the police,they had surveyed the area after observing the growing crime rate in the locality. We had noticed that many of the accused were residents of these illegal shanties, said A Shaikh,senior police inspector of Malwani police.
Through the survey,the Malwani police learnt that the land of about 65 acre in Ambujwadi belonged to the Civic body in 2004. After a major demolition drive the BMC had handed over the area to be taken care to the MMRDA.
The MMRDA officials had posted a security guard in the area to prevent illegal constructions,however,the land mafia began constructing shanties there and then selling each shanty for Rs 70,000 to 80,000.
We assumed that the crime rate of the area will decrease if the illegal shanties harbouring the criminals are demolished. We had in the past cases noticed that many of the criminals were using these shanties as a hide out. With the arrest of these land mafias we are intending to stop the growing crime like rapes,robberies and murders, Shaikh said.
The deputy collector of the area has assured the police that all the 20,000 shanties would be demolished within 2 days. Demolishing 20,000 shanties would mean controlling a huge crowd who are presently staying in the hutments and will not be ready to vacate their houses, said Shaikh.
Police have posted security and police personnel in the area for crowd management.
There were about 29 people working land mafia according to our list. We are looking out for the rest, said Shaikh. The 15 will be presented before the court on Tuesday.