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Officials accused of fraud land deal

Jorhat, Aug. 11: A case has been filed in the chief judicial magistrate’s court here against Jorhat deputy commissioner Solanki Vishal Vasant, Jorhat Municipal Board (JMB) chairman Prasanta Bora, all JMB ward commissioners, additional deputy commissioner (revenue) P.K. Das and former Jorhat deputy commissioner R.C. Jain for being allegedly involved in a fraudulent land deal undertaken by the civic body.

The four landowners and the person to whom the landowners had vested the power of attorney to sell a plot of land at Meleng Metala village, on the eastern outskirts here, to the JMB have also been made accused of fraud. The landowners are Dhrubajyoti Patra, Akash Patra, Gopal Patra and Haricharan Bora. Tilanta Saikia is the person to whom the landowners had vested the power of attorney.

The two complainants who filed the case are Gautam Bora, an advocate of Jorhat Bar Association and Bhaskarjyoti Bora, secretary of the recently formed Bhumi Adhikhar Suraksha Mancha at Meleng.

The petitioners have urged the court to record the statements of Jorhat legislator Rana Goswami, an AICC secretary, who is an ex-officio member of the JMB, and Jorhat Lok Sabha MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, another ex-officio member of the civic body to know their respective stands on the matter. Tasa has not yet taken oath as a member of the JMB.

Chief judicial magistrate D. Ullah has forwarded the case to the court of first class magistrate Bichitra Dutta. In their petition, the complainants have urged the court to take cognisance of the case and prosecute the accused under Sections 166, 167, 168, 199, 200, 420 and 409 IPC.

Lawyer Rintu Goswami accompanied the duo. They alleged today that the JMB chairman and the 18 ward commissioners had “conspired with the district administration officials” and purchased an agricultural plot (17 bighas), which was about 16km away from the town, at a much higher price (Rs 49 lakh) than the government price of the land.

Goswami alleged that the JMB had not taken approval of the government to buy the plot of land, which was mandatory according to the municipal law of the state. The purposal of acquiring the land, too, was not clear.

He alleged that from the documents accessed by them it has come to light that the JMB chairman had not cited why exactly the plot needed to be purchased by the civic body.

He alleged that the JMB chairman, in the affidavit submitted to the former deputy commissioner requesting for grant of permission to buy the plot, had said the land was needed for a “future project”. Although in some other documents Bora had stated that the land was required for a “gardening and horticulture project”.

Goswami said people living near the plot of land, along with Jorhat MP Tasa, had been opposing the purchase of the land and had sent a number of representations to Vasant time and again. The deputy commissioner did not pay heed and through the ADC (revenue) extended the permission granted by Jain to JMB to buy the land.

The JMB chairman has denied the charges and said the land has been acquired for future projects by following the due process of the law.

Vasant, too, denied the charge saying he had found nothing illegal in granting permission to buy the land by his predecessor.

Jain denied committing any illegality in giving permission to an “elected body” for carrying out projects.


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