Mrunal Manmay Dash

A major racket involved in selling tribal land might be operating in Khordha district. The matter came to light after Begunia Sub-Registrar caught a person from Scheduled Tribe (ST) while trying to sell his land on forged documents claiming it as a land of general category.

As per reports, Brahmachari Pradhan from Begunia in Khordha allegedly sold his land measuring an area of 500 decimal to one Birupaksha Mangaraj at a cost of Rs 1 lakh.

However, the forgery was detected when the land patta was verified. Begunia Sub-Registrar Amit Kumar Sethi found that the patta was forged. He immediately informed the matter to Tehsildar Tapas Kumar Bisi.

Tehsildar verified the patta as well and wrote back to the Sub-Registrar informing that the patta was fake. Even the online khatiyans have also been manipulated. It was found that Brahmachari Pradhan's caste is actually sabar, an ST. But in the Jamanbandi registry (Settlement Registry), his caste has been forged and made into a Sar, general category.

“The land actually belongs to a Scheduled Tribe. His caste was mentioned as Sabar during the last land settlement. But they have forged the Record of Rights (RoR) and changed his surname to Sar,” said Sub-Registrar Sethi.

“They have done it to avoid further scrutiny because the Sub-Collector’s permission is needed to sell and purchase tribal land,” Sethi said.

In fact, the seller Brahmachari Pradhan himself admits he is a Scheduled Tribe.

When contacted, Pradhan said, “I am a Scheduled Tribe. I had borrowed money from him (Mangaraj). I could not repay the money, so I gave him the ‘patta’ of my land and sold it. I do not what he did with my patta or whether he had done any forgery.”

It's not just this one incident. A large-scale tribal land grabbing has come to light while investigating this case. In Begunia Tehsil, the middlemen seems to have grabbed more than 20 acres of land by changing the caste on the pattas of the tribals.

The local Tehsildar admitted the scam and suspected the involvement of some employees of the Tehsil office behind the fraud and said that higher officials would be informed about it.

There can be 20 more such cases from the same village. We are digging deep and exercising all our resources in all mouzas. There are certainly mistakes. But we are still not sure who has done it. It may be the officials at Tehsil office or some people outside it,” said Begunia Tehsildar Tapas Kumar Bisi.

Meanwhile, the Additional District Magistrate Safalya Mandit Pradhan said that the matter will be investigated and immediate action will be taken.

“I did not know about that. I learnt this from the media. I will speak to the Tehsildar and the Collector and take action as per the inquiry report,” said the Khordha ADM.

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