Minister accused of usurping widow's land
LUCKNOW: Chief minister Rajnath Singh's much hyped claims of transparent governance notwithstanding, his cabinet colleagues have not shied from using muscle power to deprive the helpless and the poor of valuable land which rightfully belong to them.
The case of Samunari Devi of Maharajganj is one such instance where revenue records have been manipulated to show her as dead and her land forcibly taken allegedly by goons of state minister for institutional finance Amarmani Tripathi. Fear of being killed has forced the widow to leave her ancestral home and hearth and be on the run since December 1999.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, former MP and AICC member Harshvardhan said Samunari Devi, widow of Laxmi Prasad and a member of the Tharu tribe, was the sole owner of 0.161 hectre of land in Hardi village and 0.239 and 0.239 hectre in Parsauni Khurd village of Nautanwa tehsil in district Maharajganj. In addition to this, she was also the joint owner of 2.800 hectres in Hardi and 1.200 hectres in Nautanwa which she shared with her husband's relative Tribhuwan Prasad and widow of Kudai Chowdhary.
Harshvardhan alleged that Amarmani Tripathi taking undue advantage of his position exerted pressure on the district administration and in connivance with Tribhuwan Prasad showed the living Samunari Devi as dead in the revenue records. He got the joint ownership land of Hardi and Nautanwa transferred in the name of Tribhuwan and later enterd into a benami transaction with the latter and got the Nautanwa land transferred in the name of his brother Ajitmani Tripathi. This, however, was subsequently struck down by the ADM Maharajganj as the land belonged to an ST member. The AICC member said to escape the legal wrangles, Amarmani again entered into a benami transaction with one Labere of Balrampur, who is an ST.
A visibly fightened Samunari Devi, who was present at the press conference, said she was threatened by the minister's goons from raising her voice against this gross act of goondaism. She was also deprived of the original land papers. She said the minister has opened a gas agency on one portion of the Nautanwa land in the name of his brother and on the other he was running a school. The Nautanwa land is priced at Rs 15 lakh.
Samunari said Amarmani's misdeeds did not end here. Her 15-year-old daughter Ramrati Devi who had been consistently raising her voice against the minister and his men suddenly disappeared. A few days later her half burnt body was discovered from near a nullah on the Indo-Nepal border. She said her attempts to get an FIR lodged in this connection were aborted allegedly on account of the pressure exerted by the minister.
Presenting documents Harshvardhan said the revenue records of such land where Samunari was the sole owner showed her as living while those in which she is the joint owner show her as dead. He questioned how could one person be living and dead at the same time.
Harshvardhan who had brought Samunari to the state capital to present her case before the CM said the latter should immediately dismiss Amarmani fron the cabinet and ensure that the widow's land was returned to her within 10 days.