Top cop locked up by temple trustees over land dispute?

Nothing is more real than real estate, as the ground underneath our feet continues to shrink with every new construction.

This fact was borne out on Sunday when a dispute over a piece of land between IPS officer Marie-Lou Fernandes and Pimpleshwar temple trust, Dombivli took an ugly turn. The trustees allegedly locked Fernandes inside the plot. Top cops from Thane visited the spot, but failed to release her.

Locked in: DCP Marie-Lou Fernandes was locked inside the premises on Sunday morning and a new lock was placed on the gate, which already had an older one on it. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Mumbai-based deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Fernandes went over to the plot at MIDC Phase II, Dombivli (East) on Friday. She instated five huge nameplates on the rooms and boundary walls. On Saturday, more than 15 unidentified persons removed the plates. They also put up hoardings in the area claiming they would take out a morcha on the plot as a ‘Christian woman had encroached upon their land’.

Losing the plot!
On Sunday morning some persons allegedly locked Fernandes inside the plot. They put up a new lock on the main gate (entrance) of the tract. An old lock, which is claimed by Fernandes, was already on the gate. Fernandes said she telephoned several top cops, including director general of police (DGP) Sanjeev Dayal and Thane commissioner of police (CP) KP Raghuvanshi.

More than 100 armed policemen went to the spot but allegedly did not help Fernandes. She was still behind lock and key when reports last came in.

The atmosphere in the area was vitiated further as some people forcibly closed down some shops in the proximity. “I am helpless. The trustees have locked me in. I cannot say anything more on the issue,” said Fernandes.

Up for grabs?
John (67), brother-in-law of Fernandes, told MiD DAY that the female police personnel’s father Nattu Fernandes had purchased a five-acre plot at Dombivli in 1961.

In 1985, someone constructed a very small temple on the land. Comprehending the religious overtones, the Fernandes family put up no resistance. In time, the entire plot was usurped. On several occasions, Fernandes has complained to Manpada police.

“The issue took a more controversial turn when a man became a trustee paying Rs 93 lakh to the temple fund. The land’s market value is more than Rs 20 crore,” said a local resident, who wished to remain anonymous.

“We have all the documents to prove that Fernandes is the actual owner of the land. The temple administrators belong to political parties, so the police found themselves helpless. The trustees also want to give this issue a religious colour,” said John.

“We have registered an offence. The matter is under investigation,” said DCP Manoj Patil.

“I am out of the police station. Call me back later,” said M Pandhare, senior inspector, Manpada police station, when contacted by MiD DAY.

The other side
“Fernandes owns only a 2,000-sq m plot. The whole estate has been under the temple for the past 60 years. Being an IPS officer, she is trying to usurp the entire piece of land. We have a court order that says she cannot enter the plot without fresh mandate. But on Friday she walked into the premises with 15 cops and other people on behest of a survey. She broke the godown lock. Manpada police is taking her side as she is an IPS officer,” said Prakash Mhatre, one of the temple trustees.  

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