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Arrest of former gunman lands Kerala Chief Minister in fresh trouble

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on January 24, 2018

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Salim Raj held in ₹250-crore land grabbing case

An infamous land grab case in which his former gunman is involved has come back to haunt Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

Civil police officer Salim Raj and six others were arrested on Wednesday for “conspiring with revenue officials to grab a large land parcel of 44.5 acres” within limits of the capital city.

The CBI had sought to indict 27 persons for revenue document fraud, corruption, abuse of office and coercion in the case. It told a special court here that the accused had cited non-existent court decrees, falsified records, created fake sales, partition deeds and title deed registry, to appropriate titles of genuine landowners during 2005-12.

The landowners were also forced to part with their land for a compensation fixed by the accused, the CBI said.

The case dates back to 2013, when Raj was widely believed to enjoy the backing of “powerful” people in the government. In fact, the Kerala High Court had wondered how he had managed to cough up huge amounts of money for land deals.

Someone powerful seemed to be behind the civil police officer, the court noted in a verbal observation. It assessed that the money involved in the land grab came to ₹250 crore.

On a separate occasion, the High Court rapped the Director-General of Police for forwarding a complaint against Raj to the State government instead of ordering an inquiry into it.

The court orally wondered why the DGP and other police officers were “afraid of this police constable.”

Meanwhile, the arrests of Raj and his accomplices have come in the run-up to the Aruvikkara by-election to the State Assembly slated for June 27. CPI(M) strongman and former state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) has been reduced to a den for criminals and vagabonds and has lost all its probity.

Solar scam

He made the remark in Kochi ahead of appearing before a commission of enquiry probing the solar scam, which is another case in which the CMO is embroiled in.

Vijayan has handed over phone call details of solar scam accused Sarita Nair to the commission. He submitted that Chandy was personally involved in the case.

He recalled that even KPCC president VM Sudheeran, who had earlier wanted to recuse himself from being named as a witness, had changed his stance and said he was willing to depose.

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Published on June 04, 2015
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