Citizens allege ‘bogus social workers’ blackmail them over ‘illegal constructions’ and recover ransoms
Nagpur: The Lokshahi Din held at Nagpur Municipal Corporation on Monday to resolve complaints of citizens left the Municipal Commissioner Abhijit Bangar red-faced as residents of Satranjipura Zone accused some officials of the civic body of having nexus with anti-social elements posing as RTI activists to extort money from them.
The citizens met Commissioner of Police Dr Bhushan Kumar Upadhyay as well as top boss of NMC Bangar and submitted their complaints at Lokshahi Din. The delegation of citizens under the aegis of Alert Citizen Forum headed by President Altaf Ahmed and United Builders Association headed by Shabbir Bhai Kanchwala claimed that NMC’s zonal officers directed them to meet certain private individuals to settle the complaints against them. In zone offices of NMC several persons filed applications under Right to Information Act to obtain information about construction of their houses in old city. The zone officers provided the necessary information but asked them to settle the matters with the dubious persons/complainants. The officers of Satranjipura Zone are also involved in this ‘nasty business,’ the delegation alleged.
“These so called social workers harassed them and blackmailed them on the basis of information provided by the zone officers. The same persons have been asking details in nexus with the officers regularly. The complaints being filed to extort money from the gullible citizens of Bohra community,” they added. They have demanded stern action such blackmailers and officers of the civic body.
In their submissions to the Commissioner of Police and Municipal Commissioner, the delegation pointed out that the Alert Citizen Forum had filed a complaint dated 06/08/2018 against the officers of the Satranjipura Zone on Lokshahi Din but nothing has been initiated by the concerned authorities to curb the unlawful activities of the Zone Officers and their accomplices. On the contrary, the unlawful activities and harassment of the innocent citizens of the Satranjipura Zone have increased multiple times.
“It was brought to the notice of Municipal Commissioner that the officers of Satranjipura Zone have been indulging in unlawful activities and have innovated a modus operandi to forcibly extract huge ransom amount/bribe amount from innocent private house owners and builders of the area. The modus operandi runs like this: A private house owner/builder starts construction activities or repair works well within the boundaries of his ownership plot but without obtaining the necessary permission from the NMC as required by law or in some cases the construction is slightly deviated from the sanctioned plan. The concerned Zonal Officers of the NMC are on the prowl 24/7 looking for such illegal and unauthorised works.
On detection of any such activity, the Zonal Officers themselves file a complaint against the said Illegal and unauthorised construction through their many accomplices and agents who are using the letter heads of all political parties for filing the frivolous complaints. After the complaint is lodged, the concerned zonal officers then pose to visit the illegal and unauthorised construction site and inform the house owner about receiving the complaint and ask for the necessary documents like sanctioned building plan, building permit etc which obviously are not available with them. The said concerned officers of the Zone then issue a Notice/Letter to the party carrying out the construction activities and instruct to stop the constructions immediately and further threaten them with coercive action of demolition and removal of the Illegal portion if the house owner/builder fails to provide the legal and sanctioned papers within a period of seven days,” the residents claimed.
The residents further claimed that on receiving the said legal notice, the house owner naturally tends to panic as he doesn’t possess the same and acts by approaching the concerned officers of the Zone Office and falls into the “Trap” laid down by them. The concerned officers then act innocent and pose their inability to help by saying that they would have certainly helped the house owner/builder but are unable to do so as it is a complaint case and directs them to meet the Asst Municipal Commissioner of the Zone and get his help.
On meeting the Asst Municipal Commissioner the house owners and builders are assured that the Zonal Office will not take any coercive action against the constructions carried out by them provided that the House Owner/Builder settle the matter with the complainant by paying them the demanded amount and get the complaint withdrawn.
“Most of the gullible House Owners/Builders, fearing the consequences and coercive action by the NMC authorities, bow to the illegal demands and settle the matter with the said complainant by paying huge ransom amount to him as well as the demanded bribe amount to the concerned officers of the Satranjipura Zone Office. The complainant after the settlement then issues a letter to the Zone Officer saying that the house owners/builders have met him in person and explained them about the Illegal part of the construction and have assured that the same will be regularized and that the complaint filed by them is being withdrawn as they are satisfied”, the delegation pointed out.
“The Zonal Officers then complete the formalities, take a declaration letter from the house owner that all construction activities have been stopped and no construction work will be carried out any further. The file is then closed after he takes his ‘Pound of Flesh’ from the innocent house owner/builder,” the residents charged.
The aggrieved residents further said that on scrutiny of all such frivolous complaints filed by the various complainants it will be found that the same complainants had filed several such complaints during the last many years which clearly indicate that there is something fishy and more than meets the eye.
On further scrutiny of the complainants, it can be found that the said complainants are not from the neighbourhood or nearby vicinity wherein it can be assumed that they are being affected by the construction activitites being carried out by the House Owners/Builders and have filed the complaints but are residence of far away areas and have got nothing to do with the ongoing construction activities.
It is very obvious that the complaints filed by such unconcerned persons are filed with an ulterior motive to blackmail the innocent House Owners/Builders and extract huge ransoms. It will not be out of place to mention here that the said complainants themselves must have carried out Illegal and unauthorised constructions in their respective residences, they pointed out.