Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 20:
It is shocking that commissioner Dr Rajendra Prasad Sharma, the man in charge of law and order in the Twin City of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar is ignorant about something that the denizens of Odisha’s capital city have known for a long time: the land mafia has a finger in virtually every crime pie – gang-war, extortion, kidnapping, murder, you name it.
“I do not have any idea about the presence of land mafia in the city. I am going to seek intelligence inputs on the number of active gangs and their activities. Commissionerate Police will keep a vigil on their activities once we have the report,” said Sharma yesterday.
The recent murder of contractor Dileep Nayak at Patrapada on the outskirts of the city on Thursday brought to fore the reign of terror unleashed by the land mafia in and around Bhubaneswar..
Even though Commissionerate Police claimed ignorance, we found out that the mafia operate in a large area around Bhubaneswar and most of them are hands in glove with the police officers themselves. Some of them are even closely associated with top political leaders of the ruling BJD and Opposition Congress. A case in point: Rajendra Barik, the main accused in the Dileep Nayak murder case.
We found out that there are more than 20 organized gangs in the city that deal with land disputes and their primary areas of operations are Chandka, Kantabada, Mendhasala, Janla, Tamando, Patrapada, Ghatikia, Uttara, Dhauli, Sundarpada, Pokhariput, Lingipur, Samantarapur, Daruthenga , Patia, Jatni and Pipili.
Most of those who work for these mafias are local youth, often with a criminal background. Most of the present-day mafia themselves started small protecting the area they belong to and later grew strength to rein over more profitable localities, usually after many gang wars and bloodshed.
Their usual activities involve extorting from land owners who construct their houses, demanding percentage from land deals, enforcing road blockade on private plots, illegally grabbing government land and selling them to unsuspecting buyers, grabbing land from private owners, helping large construction companies in land acquisition by force, taking contract for development and supply of materials for construction etc.
Given the large amount of money involved, usually in crores, the gangs often collide and cases reach the cops. That is when the cops are roped in to bail out the small-time foot soldiers. Most of the mafia themselves have cultivated the political class for their protection from law. The politicians and cops on the local police beats are given new vehicles, cash, expensive gifts, free plots, holiday trips etc depending upon the benefits expected from them.
The mafia also pressurize the local cops not to register complaints against them when victims approach the police station. Without too many complaints, no wonder, the Police Commissioner claims ignorance on their very presence even though they are present just about everywhere in and around the city.