Three first information reports (FIRs) were filed at different police stations in Ahmedabad, first time under the newly introduced stringent Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act on Wednesday.
According to police, the FIRs were filed at Sarkhej, Ellisbridge and Sola High Court police stations against various accused for allegedly grabbing land of complainants, after the Ahmedabad district land grabbing (prohibition) committee referred it to the police.
A committee of seven officials, headed by the district collector and having other members such as district development officer, district superintendent of police, municipal commissioner, police commissioner, chief executive officer of urban development authority and resident additional collector was formed under the anti-land grabbing act.
Any aggrieved person can submit a written complaint to the committee, which will then appoint an officer to inquire into it. The inquiry officer will submit the report and the committee has to take a decision on the report within 21 days.
As per the Act, if the complaint is found genuine, then the committee will order registration of an FIR against the accused person. Police will have to register an FIR within seven days of the order of the committee. Investigation of the case will be done by a police officer, not below the rank of deputy superintendent of police. Police will also have to submit the charge sheet within 30 days of the FIR.
For expediting trial in cases under the law, special courts will also be set up and these courts will have to dispose of the case within six months. Under the Act, the minimum punishment for the guilty is 10 years, which can be extended upto 14 years.
In the first case, 74-year-old Ahemad Patel, a resident of Paldi in Ahmedabad, was detained and booked at Sarkhej police station for allegedly grabbing 8,030 square metres of land in Ahmedabad city area 33 years ago.
According to police, Pranav Sheth (46), a resident of Bopal in Ahmedabad, submitted a written complaint on Wednesday to the Sarkhej PS alleging that the land plot was registered in the name of his father, Harish Sheth, and since 2007, his name has been put as the owner.
“In 1984, my father decided to sell the land to two persons — Lakhu Patel and Rajendra Tripathi — for Rs 2.18 lakh. However, my father never gave the ownership of the plot to the two persons nor have we received the Rs 2.18 lakh from them till date. So the agreement got cancelled due to non-performance. In 1987, the two persons sold the land plot to Ahemad Patel for Rs 2.18 lakh… however, the agreement mentioned that the ownership has not been given to Ahemad Patel,” said Sheth in his complaint.
“Since 1987, Ahemad Patel has been illegally occupying the land and has contructed Sheetal Estate on the land and rented it to third parties. The accused has also constructed a mosque… I approached the district collector on January 8 and an order by the member secretary of the district land grabbing (prohibition) committee has been issued ordering police for an FIR,” the complaint added.
Ahemad Patel’s son, Raees Patel told The Indian Express that the case is before the Gujarat High Court and accused the police of high-handedness.
“The case sub-judice at the Gujarat High Court… Recently we met a senior police officer and submitted all the documents of our land. On Wednesday morning , my 74-year-old father and I were taken to Sarkhej police station and by afternoon, we were told that my father was being detained. We tried explaining that we have been owners of the land for 30 years but they did not listen and filed an FIR,” said Raees.
In the second case, three accused — Viral Desai, Vipul Desai and Bachu Chunara — were booked for allegedly grabbing over 3,000 square metres of land allotted to Panjrapole (animal shelter) organisation in Ambawadi of Ahmedabad.
According to the complainant, Rasik Nandasana, a consultant with Panjrapole body, the three accused had illegally occupied the land, parked private vehicles and have been running their own animal shelter for three years by threatening the body members. The complainant had sent his application to the district land grabbing (prohibition) committee after which the FIR was lodged at Ellisbridge police station on Wednesday.
In the third case, six accused — Nathaji Ramtaji, Jalmaji Ramtaji, Lakshmanji Ramtaji, Rajaji Ramtaji, Ashok Rajaji and Lalaji Rajaji — were booked at Sola High Court police station for allegedly grabbing a portion of 9,442 square metres of land in Chharodi village of Ahmedabad that is supposed to be a pastoral land. As per the FIR by the revenue talati official, the plot was sanctioned to the village panchayat since 1950 and since 2006 with the creation of municipality, the land was allotted for pasture for animals.
“A portion of the pastoral land is now on the Sarkhej Gandhinagar highway while the remaining plot has been illegally encroached by the six accused. In 2018, a team of the municipal corporation and police had removed the encroachment from the land. However, the six accused are again trying to encroach upon the land and I submitted the application to the district committee last week,” said Siddhraj Vaghela, revenue talati, Chharodi village, in his complaint.
Speaking to The Indian Express, RV Asari, additional commissioner of police, sector 1, said, “For the first time, three FIRs under the newly introduced land grabbing act has been lodged in Ahmedabad. All the accused in the case have been involved in land grabbing and multiple FIRs have been lodged against them in the past. We have launched investigations in the cases… in future also, police will keep taking action against those grabbing land.”