Congress press meet in New Delhi on December 19

Congress on December 19 demanded a time-bound SIT probe into an alleged land scam involving the family of Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. It alleged that a company owned by Sarma’s wife and relatives has illegally grabbed government land.

Addressing a joint press conference in New Delhi on December 19, Congress leaders Gaurav Vallabh, Ripun Bora, Jitendra Singh and Gaurav Gogoi said: “Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, on one hand is showing hard-handedness in evicting poor and deprived families on the ground that no one has the right to illegally takeover the government land, but on the other hand he is handing over the government land worth crores of rupees to his family members on his own whims and fancies.”

The Congress alleged: “As per an investigation by leading media houses, a real estate company, RBS Realtors, co-founded by the chief minister’s wife, Riniki Bhuyan Sarma is allegedly occupying around 18 acres of government land intended for landless individuals and institutions.”

The party alleged that RBS Realtors Private Limited acquired most of the 18 acres in two stages, first in 2006-2007 and then in 2009.

Individuals, who are landless and needy, are granted ceiling surplus land by the Assam government and are prohibited from selling that land for a 10-year period.

“In 2009, a total of 11 bigha three katha and four lessa of ceiling surplus land in Bongora intended for and allotted to supposedly needy individuals by the government of Assam was bought by Himanta Biswa Sarma’s wife’s company, violating the 10-year lock-in period,” it said.

“A total of seven plots in North Guwahati were allegedly allocated to RBS realtors between 2008 and 2009 Plot 1- 4.37 acre land: Assam government allotted 4.37 acre ceiling surplus land to Lalmoti Talukdar on condition that it couldn’t be sold for 10 years. Barely two months later, on January 28, 2009, Talukdar sold 3.19 acres of the 4.37 acre to RBS Realtors Plot 2- 1872 square feet land: Assam government allotted 1,872 square feet (0.042 acre) ceiling surplus land to Basanta Nath with a 10-year lock-in period for sale,” it said.

“In 2017, 23.61 per cent of the Rs 100 face value shares of Vasistha Realtors were transferred to Meena Bhuyan, mother of Riniki Bhuyan Sarma and mother-in-law of the chief minister.

On September 16, 2019 – barely 18 days after Himanta Biswa Sarma’s son Nandil Biswa Sarma became an adult – Meena Bhuyan transferred her shares to him. As of FY-20, the chief minister’s son owns 23.61 per cent shares of the company,” the Congress alleged.

Gaurav Vallabh said that a sitting CM, whose family is directly “involved in land grabbing”, has no right to remain in power.

Himanta Biswa Sarma should be sacked from his chief minister’s post immediately, Gaurav Vallabh added.

All unlawful land transfers to the aforementioned realtors must be immediately cancelled and provisions must be made to provide alternate land to the landless and needy people whose land was unscrupulously taken away, the Congress demanded.

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