Mira-Bhayandar: After evading the police dragnet for over two months, a former Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) corporator in the Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC) was finally arrested by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) attached to the Mira Bhayandar-Vasai Virar (MBVV) police on Wednesday.
The accused identified as Sitaramm Gupta who was apprehended from Mumbai is said to be the mastermind of a massive scam involving land grab on which 41 buildings were illegally constructed in the Achole area of Vasai East over a period extending 20 years on the virtue of fake and fabricated documents like ownership agreements and completion certificates issued in the name of the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) and the VVMC.
Court rejects corporator's anticipatory bail
The court had earlier rejected the anticipatory bail application moved by Gupta. It has been alleged that Gupta along with his nephew- Arun Gupta and other accomplices not only took illegal possession of 30 acres of privately-owned land but also grabbed another 30 acres (survey number 20 to 30) which had been reserved for civic amenities including sewage treatment plants and dumping grounds for waste management. Arun Gupta is already behind bars.
The action followed in response to complaints filed by- Ajay Sharma, a caretaker and power of attorney holder of some land parcels who sourced out documents under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to expose the massive scam. An offense under the relevant sections of the IPC was registered at the Achole police station in June this year against Gupta and two others for charges including cheating, criminal trespass, and forgery. The illegally acquired property was sold to several builders who went on to construct and sell hundreds of flats in 41-four-storeyed buildings allegedly on the behest of the accused and his accomplices.
200 flat buyers in threat of becoming homeless
The fear of becoming homeless looms over 200 gullible families who have purchased flats and are residing in the illegally constructed buildings as the civic administration has slapped eviction notices to them. Ironically, the VVMC allowed the construction of buildings without verifying the genuineness of documents.
The investigating team is also probing any possible underworld nexus as the scamsters allegedly used the name of dreaded gangsters in an apparent attempt to instil fear amongst the complainants and original land owners, sources said. Meanwhile, Sitaram Gupta has been remanded in police custody till September 27. Notably, a similar scam with a much larger magnitude was recently unearthed by the police in which offences were registered at the Achole police station against nine people on 19, August.