The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam has discovered a fraud committed by a former caretaker, who sold the trust’s land measuring 84 acres located near Panvel.
Raghuvansh Lal Das, who was appointed to take care of the trust property back in 1947, allegedly got the land transferred to his name in 1972. After Das passed away, his son apparently sold the land to private developers in 1990.
The property, which is located at Karanjade village, about three km north of Panvel, is estimated to be worth about Rs400 crore today.
The fraud was detected a year ago, after a new caretaker, Satpal Singh, took charge. The trust approached the Panvel court, which directed the police to investigate the matter.
Two of the persons, who helped in the sale of the land in 1990, were arrested by the Panvel police in Neral on Sunday. The police gave their names as Sunil Mohite, 35, and Ashwin Chauhan, 36. The two have been remanded in police custody till Wednesday.
Now, the police are looking for two real estate developers from Panvel who bought the property.
“After Das passed away, his son Kasundra Nath used the power of attorney and sold the land to Umesh Udhani and Ganpat Patil, both real estate developers in Panvel,” said Dattatray Patil, senior police inspector. But the sale was not registered.
In 2006, Udhani and Patil used fake documents to obtain certificates of agriculturists from the local administration and got the land transferred to their names.
They were helped in this matter by Mohite and Chauhan. “While Mohite appeared as Udhani, Chauhan was witness of the deal. After that Udhani and Patil sold the land to Yashodha Gauda for Rs4 crore in 2010,” the police inspector said.
“In November 2012, the trust sent Satpal Singh as the new caretaker of that land to Panvel. After he learnt about the sales and resale of the land, the trust approached the Panvel court and the court directed us to investigate the case. Meanwhile, Udhani also approached the Bombay High Court with an application requesting to put the invetigation on hold. The court, however, rejected his application and following this we arrested Sunil Mohite and Ashwin Chauhan on Sunday. They will be police in our till January 1,” Patil said.
“During interrogation, the suspects revealed that there was one more person, a real estate developer by the name of Sanjay Sonawane, who is also involved in the scam,” Patil added.
Another police officer said the investigations were at an initial stage and there could be many others involved in this.
As the skeleton tumbles out
The 84-acre land, which is located at Karanjade village, about three km north of Panvel, is estimated to be worth about Rs400 crore today. The fraud was detected a year ago, after a new caretaker, Satpal Singh, took charge. The trust approached the Panvel court, which directed the police to investigate the matter.