Number of land dispute cases being reported in the Garhwal range in Uttarakhand is increasing every year.
In October 2014, Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed for the Garhwal and Kumaon range each, to look into cases of land frauds. Since then, as many as 2,558 applications have been received by the Garhwal range.
Data accessed from Police reveals that a total of 909 people have been arrested in the last three and a half years in such cases.
In the last three months of 2014, the SIT received 39 cases and in 2015, the number of applications were 474. This increased to 1,238 in 2016, and the next year there were 747 applications. In 2018, the SIT has already received 60 applications so far.
In regards to the number of arrests, 2016 had the most number of arrests with the figure being 625. This was followed by 213 arrests in 2015, and 71 in 2017. This year, police have arrested nearly 15 people in seven cases that were registered last year.
“The need for the SIT was felt because the cops at the police station level were not equipped with adequate resources. Most of the land fraud cases are from Dehradun. The reason could be the city’s growth in the recent years,” said Pushpak Jyoti, DIG, Garhwal range.
He however added that there have been occasions when people file false complaints due to ill will. “Before investigating a case in detail, the SIT conducts a screening to ascertain veracity of the complaint. We don’t entertain cases that are pending in civil courts,” the DIG said.
The rise in the number of land fraud cases, especially in Dehradun, can be closely attributed to the growth of the city as a real estate hub in the last 18 years.
“Dehradun suddenly became very important from the real estate point of view after it was declared the state capital. The land value rose exponentially, which in turn brought land sharks to the city,” says Aloke B Lal, former director general of police, Uttarakhand. He adds that prior to 2000, people owned large swathes of land in Dehradun and they were not even bothered to erect boundaries and look after it.
“Over the last decade or so, ownership titles of many of these lands have been forged and fake wills prepared. There are also many lands which are owned by people but they have not come to Dehradun for years. So, over the years, land sharks occupied such plots. Furthermore, since the old land records are lying with the revenue authorities in Sahranpur, it became easier for people to float forged documents,” he says.
But Dehradun is not alone in this.
The trend can also be seen in Rishikesh, Haridwar and Mussoorie says SS Pangtey, a former bureaucrat.
Of all 2,558 applications that the SIT received, 230 were found to false and in 429, the parties arived at mutual consensus.