Congress accuses Assam CM, family of grabbing land meant for landless; seeks his dismissal
The party shares details of 7 plots "illegally" bought by RBS Realtors, a firm linked with CM Himanta Sarma's wife Riniki Bhuyan; demands SIT probe under supervision of a sitting Supreme Court judge
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.
Addressing a joint press conference, Congress leaders Jitendra Singh, Gaurav Gogoi and Gourav Vallabh and party MPs Ripun Bora and Abdul Khaleque alleged that Sarma misused his official position to illegally transfer government land for landless people in favour of RBS Realtors from 2006 to 2009.
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.
Landless and needy people 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 (3,01,674 sq. feet or 6.92 acres) of ceiling surplus land in Bongora intended for and allotted to needy individuals by the government of Assam, was bought by the company, violating the 10-year lock-in period, they said.
The Congress leaders gave details of seven plots in North Guwahati that were bought over from the government allottees by RBS realtors between 2008 and 2009. These allottees were: Lalmoti Talukdar (4.37 acre); Basanta Nath (1,872 sq feet); Satya Talukdar (1.26 acre); Rajubala Talukdar (1.95 acre); Bixoy Nath (0.75 acre); Beliram Talukdar (5,752 sq. feet); and Nobin Nath (2,880 sq. feet).
The Congress leaders pointed out that while Ranjit Bhattacharyya was the founder director of RBS Realtors during that period, the other founder director was Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, wife of current Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
By December 2009, Riniki Bhuyan Sarma had resigned from the position of the company’s director. Subsequently, RBS Realtors applied for a name change and re-incorporated itself as Vasistha Realtors Pvt Ltd.
“In 2017, 23.61% of the Rs 100 face value shares of Vasistha Realtors were transferred to Smt. Meena Bhuyan, mother of Smt. Riniki Bhuyan Sarma and mother-in-law of chief minister Mr. Himanta Biswa Sarma,” the Congress leaders said.
“On September 16, 2019 – barely 18 days after Mr. Himanta Biswa Sarma’s son Nandil Biswa Sarma became an adult – Smt. Meena Bhuyan transferred her shares to him. As of FY-20, the chief minister’s son owns 23.61% the company,” they underlined.
There was no comment from Sarma or his family, and neither from the BJP over the allegations.
Gourav Vallabh and Jitendra Singh said 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.
"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”.
Jitendra Singh, who is AICC in-charge for Assam, said, “We want that the prime minister should conduct a probe by an SIT under the monitoring of a sitting Supreme Court judge.”
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 Sarda scams before joining the BJP, but turned clean after joining the saffron party.
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.