Following report, account in which the compensation was deposited has been frozen; involvement of SDO office insiders suspected; activist calls for speedy registration of FIR
The 73-year-old victim, Bhagirathi Rama Mukne, at her home in Dugad village, Bhiwandi. Pics/Hanif Patel
The Thane collector has ordered a high-level probe into the scam wherein a septuagenarian tribal woman’s details were fraudulently used to get Rs 90-lakh government compensation for land. The development comes hours after mid-day reported how the tribal woman’s photo and biometrics were used to make fake documents in the name of a dead woman to claim the money. It is suspected that some insiders from the Bhiwandi Sub-Divisional Office (SDO) may be involved in the fraud. Thane Collector Ashok Shingare told mid-day, “An inquiry has been initiated into the matter and action will be taken within the ambit of law.”
The victim, Bhagirathi Rama Mukne, a 73-year-old resident of Dugad village in Bhiwandi, was duped by fraudsters who used her details to impersonate Thaki Sakya Savar who died in 2011. Savar owned two pieces of land measuring 1,500 square metre each, which were acquired by the government for Mumbai-Vadodara Highway works. Savar’s land parcels were in the same village as Mukne, who lives in a dilapidated house.
A piece of land in Dugad village in Bhiwandi that was acquired by the government for Mumbai-Vadodara Highway works
Some fraudsters, who are yet to be identified, learnt that after Savar’s death, there was no one to claim compensation for the land and devised a plan to pocket the money. They roped in Mukne’s daughter Baby and grandson Bhushan Ashok Nandviskar to get the senior citizen’s address, other details and thumb impressions to make fake documents. They then claimed the compensation to the tune of Rs 90 lakh.
The case came to light after Mukne recently received several notices from the Bhiwandi SDO, addressed to Savar, asking her to return Rs 32 lakh which was mistakenly transferred to her account while disbursing the compensation. mid-day has learnt that the bank account where the compensation was deposited has been frozen. Bhiwandi Sub-Divisional Officer Balasaheb Wakchaure said, “We issued a notice to Savar but her reply is awaited. Action will be taken against the fraudsters involved in the matter.”
Balaram Bhoir, general secretary of Shramjeevi Sanghatana which has been fighting for the rights of tribals in Maharashtra, said, “An FIR needs to be registered at the earliest and the accused must be arrested. The case should be referred to the Crime Investigation Department, Maharashtra, for a fair investigation.”