Opposition demands inquiry on alleged govt land acquisition by firm linked to CM Sarma’s family

Opposition parties in Assam on December 8 demanded a high-level inquiry into the alleged acquisition of government land by a real estate company co-founded by chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s wife, Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, in violation of rules governing its possession, sale and use.

A report in The Wire and The CrossCurrent on December 8 claimed that a company called RBS Realtors Private Limited co-founded by the chief minister’s wife and in which their son also held a significant share, had as per official record acquired around 18 acres of government land near the Guwahati airport.

The Congress, Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Raijor Dal have demanded a high-level inquiry into the alleged violations.

Leader of the opposition in the state legislative assembly, Debabrata Saikia, said that the report has pointed out that the company has violated the Assam Land Rules, 1989 and Assam Fixation of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1956 as beneficiaries granted ceiling surplus land by the state government are prohibited from selling that land for a period of 10 years.

“An inquiry must be conducted into how a company owned by a family member of the chief minister acquired the ceiling surplus land from the original beneficiaries, who as per the rules should have returned the land to the government if they did not require it. The officials responsible for this violation should be booked accordingly,” Saikia said.

Raijor Dal president Akhil Gogoi called it a “huge land scandal” committed by the family of the chief minister.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said ‘Na khaunga, na khane dunga’. Now what will he do? Will the PM take action? Hope the prime minister will keep his promise,” the MLA said.

AJP president Lurinjyoti Gogoi hosted a press conference and demanded an inquiry into the allegations. “If the government fails to give an explanation within 24 hours and as CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are under the government control, we will consider moving the court seeking an inquiry by a Gauhati high court judge,” he said.

The news report by The Wire and The CrossCurrent claimed that RBS Realtors Private Limited had acquired most of the 18 acres in two stages – first in 2006-2007 and then in 2009 when Sarma’s wife was one of its directors.

The details of the company’s ownership of the land in question are available at ‘Dharitri’, the Assam government portal which provides a digital record of land ownership in the state, it said.

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