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Did Assam CM’s wife’s company usurp land meant for landless people?

An Investigation by The Wire and Guwahati-based portal Crosscurrent reveals that a real estate company co-founded by Himanta Biswa Sarma’s wife Rinku, is in possession of 18 acres of such land

Sabrangindia 09 Dec 2021

Encroacher
Image Courtesy:thewire.in

On the one hand, Himanta Biswa Sarma is pushing for eviction of “encroachers” from public land so that it can be handed over to indigenous youth and landless people for agriculture, and on another, a real estate company co-founded by his wife Rinku has allegedly usurped 18 acres of government land that was earmarked for landless people. This shocking revelation was made as part of a special investigation conducted by digital news portal The Wire in association with Guwahati-based portal Crosscurrent.

According to the report, “A real estate company co-founded by Sarma’s wife, Riniki Bhuyan Sarma – of which their son Nandil Biswa Sarma as of FY’20 owned a significant number of shares – is itself occupying around 18 acres of government land intended for landless individuals and institutions, according to official records. This land was acquired in violation of the official rules governing its possession, sale and use.” The name of the company is RBS Realtors Pvt. Ltd. and though Rinku Bhuyan Sarma resigned from the company in June 2009, by then the acquisition of the public land had been completed.

The report says that at least a third of this land is prime real estate given how it is located next to the Guwahati Airport and the Bongora Tech City. It further says that the land was acquired in two stages: in 2006-07 and in 2009. This is “ceiling surplus land” and was therefore to be allocated to landless people.

Assam has a vast riverine region, and nearly 7 percent of the land has been eroded away since independence, by overflow and course changes, especially during monsoons. People are often rendered landless due to land erosion caused by rivers. Excess land that came into possession of the government in wake of the implementation of the Assam Fixation of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1956, is therefore set aside for rehabilitation of the landless. There is usually a 10-year lock-in period during which said land cannot be sold by the beneficiaries. But according to The Wire, RBS Realtors acquired the said land within months of the original allotment.

The report says, “In 2009, a total of 11 bigha, three katha and four lessa (i.e. 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 Sarma’s wife’s real estate development company. The sale and registration of these plots took place less than three months after their allotment to the original beneficiaries, thus violating the mandatory 10-year lock-in period as stated in the conditions under which the plots were granted by the government to those individuals.” It further says, “By the time Sarma’s wife resigned from RBS Realtors’ directorship on June 9, 2009, however, some 80% of that total ceiling surplus land had already been acquired by the company. The government’s records show that they were acquired between January 24 and 28, 2009 – when she was still a director.”

Meanwhile, it was also revealed that Ranjit Bhattacharya, the other co-founder of the company could be related to Himanta Biswa Sarma as he is listed as part of a Hindu Undivided Family along with Sarma’s parents in the MGT-7 filings of Pride East Entertainments Private Limited, a media company owned by Bhattacharya.

All of the above, adds a crueler spin to Sarma’s eviction campaign in Assam, especially given how two people, including a 12-year-old boy were shot dead by Assam Police during one such eviction drive in Darrang on September 23, 2021. It is noteworthy that the CM’s brother Sushanta Biswa Sarma is the Superintendent of Police in Darrang where the incident took place. So is the CM using his family to acquire control of land in his state?

Related:

Temple, gaushala on the list of Assam CM’s plans for Gorukhuti
Evicted families will be rehabilitated only if name appears in NRC: Assam Gov’t to Gauhati HC
EXCLUSIVE: Three infants from evicted families die in Assam
Assam police firing: CJP aids families of victims move HC
Assam Police Firing: 12-year-old shot dead while returning home from Aadhaar centre!
Photo Feature: Evicted villagers struggle to rebuild lives in Dhalpur
Finally, FIRs filed in Dhalpur firing death cases

Did Assam CM’s wife’s company usurp land meant for landless people?

An Investigation by The Wire and Guwahati-based portal Crosscurrent reveals that a real estate company co-founded by Himanta Biswa Sarma’s wife Rinku, is in possession of 18 acres of such land

Encroacher
Image Courtesy:thewire.in

On the one hand, Himanta Biswa Sarma is pushing for eviction of “encroachers” from public land so that it can be handed over to indigenous youth and landless people for agriculture, and on another, a real estate company co-founded by his wife Rinku has allegedly usurped 18 acres of government land that was earmarked for landless people. This shocking revelation was made as part of a special investigation conducted by digital news portal The Wire in association with Guwahati-based portal Crosscurrent.

According to the report, “A real estate company co-founded by Sarma’s wife, Riniki Bhuyan Sarma – of which their son Nandil Biswa Sarma as of FY’20 owned a significant number of shares – is itself occupying around 18 acres of government land intended for landless individuals and institutions, according to official records. This land was acquired in violation of the official rules governing its possession, sale and use.” The name of the company is RBS Realtors Pvt. Ltd. and though Rinku Bhuyan Sarma resigned from the company in June 2009, by then the acquisition of the public land had been completed.

The report says that at least a third of this land is prime real estate given how it is located next to the Guwahati Airport and the Bongora Tech City. It further says that the land was acquired in two stages: in 2006-07 and in 2009. This is “ceiling surplus land” and was therefore to be allocated to landless people.

Assam has a vast riverine region, and nearly 7 percent of the land has been eroded away since independence, by overflow and course changes, especially during monsoons. People are often rendered landless due to land erosion caused by rivers. Excess land that came into possession of the government in wake of the implementation of the Assam Fixation of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1956, is therefore set aside for rehabilitation of the landless. There is usually a 10-year lock-in period during which said land cannot be sold by the beneficiaries. But according to The Wire, RBS Realtors acquired the said land within months of the original allotment.

The report says, “In 2009, a total of 11 bigha, three katha and four lessa (i.e. 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 Sarma’s wife’s real estate development company. The sale and registration of these plots took place less than three months after their allotment to the original beneficiaries, thus violating the mandatory 10-year lock-in period as stated in the conditions under which the plots were granted by the government to those individuals.” It further says, “By the time Sarma’s wife resigned from RBS Realtors’ directorship on June 9, 2009, however, some 80% of that total ceiling surplus land had already been acquired by the company. The government’s records show that they were acquired between January 24 and 28, 2009 – when she was still a director.”

Meanwhile, it was also revealed that Ranjit Bhattacharya, the other co-founder of the company could be related to Himanta Biswa Sarma as he is listed as part of a Hindu Undivided Family along with Sarma’s parents in the MGT-7 filings of Pride East Entertainments Private Limited, a media company owned by Bhattacharya.

All of the above, adds a crueler spin to Sarma’s eviction campaign in Assam, especially given how two people, including a 12-year-old boy were shot dead by Assam Police during one such eviction drive in Darrang on September 23, 2021. It is noteworthy that the CM’s brother Sushanta Biswa Sarma is the Superintendent of Police in Darrang where the incident took place. So is the CM using his family to acquire control of land in his state?

Related:

Temple, gaushala on the list of Assam CM’s plans for Gorukhuti
Evicted families will be rehabilitated only if name appears in NRC: Assam Gov’t to Gauhati HC
EXCLUSIVE: Three infants from evicted families die in Assam
Assam police firing: CJP aids families of victims move HC
Assam Police Firing: 12-year-old shot dead while returning home from Aadhaar centre!
Photo Feature: Evicted villagers struggle to rebuild lives in Dhalpur
Finally, FIRs filed in Dhalpur firing death cases

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