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New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday accused Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his family of “grabbing” 18 acres of land meant for the landless, and demanded his immediate dismissal along with a Supreme Court monitored probe by a special investigative team (SIT).
Addressing a joint press conference, Congress leaders Jitendra Singh, Gaurav Gogoi and Gourav Vallabh alleged that Sarma misused his official position to illegally transfer government land for landless people in favour of RBS realtors from 2006 to 2009, when he was a powerful minister in the then Congress government.
The Congress leaders were accompanied by party MPs Ripun Bora and Abdul Khaleque, who alleged that the chief minister was aiding the land mafia in usurping the land for the landless. They said they would raise the matter in parliament as well as on the streets.
There was no comment from Sarma or his family, and neither from the BJP over the allegations.
Vallabh and Singh alleged that the Assam chief minister, on one hand is showing high-handedness by evicting poor and deprived families on the grounds that no one has the right to illegally take over government land, but has himself handed over such land worth crores to his family members.
They said as per independent investigations, real estate company RBS Realtors, co-founded by Sarma’s wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, is allegedly occupying around 18 acres of government land intended for landless individuals and institutions.
“We demand that Sarma, who along with his family, is involved in usurping land for the landless people, should be immediately sacked from his position,” Vallabh told reporters.
“A sitting chief minister, whose family is directly involved in land grabbing, has no right to remain in power. He must be immediately sacked from his position,” he said, adding that he hopes Prime Minister Narendra Modi will sack such a “land mafia chief minister .
The Congress leader added that the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Income Tax department (IT), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) are expected to investigate all such friends who have no right to constitutionally and morally hold the positions they are occupying .
Jitendra Singh, who is All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge for Assam, said the Congress hoped Modi who has said that he would not allow anyone to indulge in corrupt practices, will carry out an independent investigation into the alleged land deals and cancel the same.
“We want that the prime minister should conduct a probe by an SIT under the monitoring of a sitting Supreme Court judge,” he said.
Singh further alleged that one has seen that probe agencies like Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Income Tax (IT) department have acted like BJP functionaries by initiating action against political opponents of the saffron party, and should now investigate people who are corrupt in the BJP too.
Taking a dig at the ruling party, Gogoi asked what washing machine does the BJP have that when it takes leaders from other parties who are facing corruption charges, turn clean after they join the BJP?
He alleged that Sarma was facing corruption probes against him in Louis Berger and Sharda scams before joining the BJP, but turned clean after joining the saffron party.
Gogoi said, “the Congress has four demands for the Modi government- an SIT be constituted immediately under the supervision of a sitting judge of the Supreme Court to investigate the matter and the SIT must carry out its investigation in a time-bound manner”.
He said the ED, CBI, IT, Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and all other investigative agencies must be asked to file a complaint and initiate an investigation of all such similar unlawful land transfers in the state of Assam.
Giving more details, the party leaders alleged that RBS Realtors Private Limited acquired most of the 18 acres in two stages, first in 2006-2007 and then in 2009.
“Individuals that are landless and needy are granted ceiling surplus land by the Assam government and are prohibited from selling that land for a 10-year period, but in 2009, a total of 11 bigha three katha and four lessa (3,01,674 square feet or 6.92 acres) of ceiling surplus land in Bongora intended for and allotted to supposedly needy individuals by the government of Assam, was bought by the company, violating the 10-year lock-in period,” they said.
The Congress demanded that all unlawful land transfers to the aforementioned realtors must be immediately cancelled and provisions made to provide alternative land to the landless and needy people whose land was unscrupulously taken away.