This Article is From Dec 15, 2010

Did A Raja force farmers to sell land?

Perambalur (Tamil Nadu): Seems like A Raja is the new controversy's child. Even as the heat over the 2G spectrum scam refuses to die, down South in Tamil Nadu's Perambalur, Raja has landed in some more trouble. Villagers of from his hometown are accusing Raja and his aides of land grabbing and threatening them.

It is for a new factory by MRF, Green House promoters, in which former Telecom Minister A Raja's wife was a director. It is believed that Raja acquired more than 400 acres of land by allegedly threatening villagers to sell or face acquisition by the Government. Later, he sold the land to the tyre company for a hefty sum of money.

Senthil, a farmer and believed to be one of the victims, claims that when he refused to part with his three acre land he was put behind the bars on false charges.

"They paid us Rs 65000 to three lakh per acre but they sold it to MRF at a price range of 15 to 18 lakh per acre," said Senthil.

And Senthil is not the only one.

Meet Pappanan. Till three years ago, Pappanan, a Dalit, owned two acres of land. Today he's a landless daily labourer. Unable to come to terms with what he is going through today, Pappanan said

"Even if Dalits were cheated of ten rupees he should have ensured we were paid more. But he has done this to us,"

Villagers of Perambalur also allege that a stretch of around 150 acres, behind the factory, have been pocketed by brokers who are associates of A Raja.

In the recent raids, the Central Bureau of Investigation had raided the office of Green House and interrogated its Managing Director Sadiq Batcha, a close associate of A Raja.

However, the tyre major says A Raja played a key role in bringing this project to his hometown and that it paid a hefty price to acquire 300 acres of land.

In order to get A Raja's version of the story, when NDTV correspondent tried calling him, he did not attend the calls. But, his party did back him on being asked about the matter.

"We feel Raja is not guilty and he is clean. Let the CBI complete its investigation," said TKS Ilangovan, a DMK Spokesperson.

Well, for the common man politicians being involved in land grab scam is not something new. However, the interesting angle here is that Karunanidhi claimed that Raja was targeted because he was a Dalit. But, here Dalits and that too from his home town are alleging him of wrongdoing.