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Probe on in land grab row

Balangir, Aug. 3: Crime branch sleuths conducted spot inquiry in the alleged land grabbing by New Delhi and Agra-based companies in the name of jatropha cultivation at villages in Balangir for the second consecutive day.

The team today visited Ghunghutipali, Jalpali and Luhasingha villages in Balangir and spoke to the farmers. The government opted for crime branch inquiry after some farmers of Ghumer and Ainlatunga had forcibly taken control of their land and started ploughing it earlier this week.

Patnagarh police, which earlier had shown no interest in the case, arrested two persons deputed by the companies at the villages to terrorise the inhabitants. Yesterday night, the two agents, Debendra Tyagi and Ajaya Sharma, who were allegedly terrorising the villagers, were arrested. Inspector in charge of Patnagarh Antaryami Behera said: “Acting on a complaint of one Chhabilal Sahu, we have arrested two who were allegedly terrorising the villagers who had lost their land. They were forwarded to court today.”

Sources said that in 2005, some Delhi and Agra-based private companies told the farmers that they were interested in taking their lands on lease to take up jatropha cultivation. The companies got the farmers to visit the tehsil office to sign on documents and took over their lands on the basis of fraudulent promises.

Without verifying what the companies were up to, they signed the sale deeds. Some of the affected villages under Patnagarh are Jalpali, Ghumer, Ainlatunga and Ghunghutipali.

In May 2007, inquiries conducted into the matter had confirmed fraudulent transactions in Patnagarh sub-division of Balangir. Superintendent of police (crime branch) Duryodhan Rout, who is leading the three-member team, said he believed that the farmers had been cheated.