The arrest of three people last week for their involvement in a racket in which seven gullible home seekers were duped to the tune of more than ₹50 lakh under the guise of offerings them cheap flats in the Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP) housing project in Kashimira, now looks like the tip of an iceberg.
While three more people including the owner of a local fair price shop and a local politician have been taken into custody, the investigating team has found several incriminating documents from their possession including ration cards and electricity bills having the address of the tenement in the slum, original survey registry and most importantly a list comprising more than 450 names tagged as allottees or potential beneficiaries.
The arrested are only the tip of the iceberg
The action followed in response to a complaint registered by 58-year-old man living in Dahisar who was cheated of ₹7 lakh by the racketeers in 2015 under the guise of facilitating allotment of a flat in the housing scheme launched by the central government to enhance the living standards of the urban poor. While seven more people who were duped in a similar manner have come forward to register their complaints, it is suspected that the number of victims could run into hundreds as the gang has been active since 2015.
Offences under various IPC sections registered
The recovery of the list arouses suspicion of fake beneficiaries being accommodated on the virtue of fake documents and bogus signatures of civic officials. While more people are on the radar, the investigating team under the supervision of DCP ( Zone I)-Jayant Bajbale is cross verifying the supporting documents to check the authenticity of beneficiaries named in the suspected list. An offence under sections 420,465, 467,468 and 34 of the IPC has been registered against the accused who are in custody. The Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) had identified two slum clusters Janta Nagar and Kranti Nagar to construct 4,136 housing units with a carpet area of 279 sq.ft. per unit in 2009.
However, due to inordinate delays the central government reduced the number of units from 4,136 to 2,160. Ironically, only 473 slum dwellers have been rehabilitated even as thousands of other eligible beneficiaries continue to live in transit accommodations as the project has scripted history of sorts by missing multiple deadlines.