The government’s initiative to digitize land administration is being hampered due to widespread irregularities and corruption committed by a section of officials.
The price of lands in Keraniganj has jumped due to the construction of the Padma Bridge. Brokers and a section of unscrupulous officials at the Keraniganj land office and are exploiting the situation. They have turned the land office into a hotspot of corruption.
They can create fake deeds with fake signatures of the officials within an hour.
Although the deeds are not enlisted in the record book at Sub-Registry Office, they are mutating lands based on fake documents. As a result, many real owners are not getting the mutation of their own land.
Aggrieved with fake mutation, hundreds of people are filing MIS cases with the office of Assistant Commissioner (Land). They claimed to have been facing harassment due to mutation of land through irregularities by a section of delinquent land officials and brokers.
Terming it a ploy to invite people to the MIS case, the aggrieved people said growing land disputes results in a large number of MIS cases creating a scope for illegal income by the corrupt land officials and their associates.
It has been learnt that many people in Keraniganj become millionaires through land-related forgeries.
The fraudsters are victimizing both the poor and rich. They take last resort and small chunks of lands belonging to the poor. A recent incident of two brothers registering 45 decimal of land through forgery created a stir in the area. The land, worth Tk 45 million, was owned by a company. The two siblings ---Abu Sayed and Md Abu Hossain have reportedly captured the costly land with the support of land officials and brokers.
The buyer made a mutation of the 45 decimals land of Ekuria mouza using the brokers at land offices though the deed was enlisted with records book of the registry office. The broker siblings are now trying to sell the land again.
A grim picture of corruption and atrocities of the brokers have been found in a media investigation into Shuvadda Union land office, sub-registry office and office of assistant commissioner (land) in the area.
One Hanif Hawladar was given power of attorney on 25 June 2006 to transfer the land to Abu Saeed and Abu Hossain of Ekuria East Madhyapara through deed number 5798.
Dhaka Multi Agricultural Complex Limited purchased 45 decimals of land bearing 237 RS Khatian (SA Daag-13) 14, 15, 16 17 RS Daag through saf-kabla deed bearing number 9139 on June 29, 2006. The company paid all the land rent and relevant taxes to the government. The company paid the tax regularly through zone 46.
Surprisingly, in 2020, two brothers managed to get the mutation of the same land in their favour. The mutation of the land in favour of the company was completed in February 2007.
In 2020, the land suddenly saw mutation again in favour of the two brothers--- Abu Sayed and Abu Hossain.
The mutation happened based on the exchange deed (number 5784) on July 24, 2019, according to the office of assistant commissioner (land).
The deed showed that the brother duo availed the 45 decimal land by giving the same space of land to the East West Property Development (EWPD).
Then Assistant Commissioner (Land) Sanjida Parvin and Suvadda land office assistant officer Hasan Mahmud signed the mutation. An individual became surprised while searching records at the South Keraniganj sub-registry office. There is no evidence of the records of the sub-registry office.
However, there is another deed in the same serial (5784) was registered with the sub-registry office. It is a deed performed through power of attorney, not an exchange deed.
Sub-Register Md Shajahan said names of Abu Sayed and Abu Hossain are in the recorded deed of 5784 serial. Some Shahidul Islam allegedly obtained Am Moktar deed from EWPD.
Only the land office can clarify how the mutation of the land was done in favour of Abu Sayed and Abu Hossain without any recorded evidence and deeds.
Visiting Suvadda union land office to find out the real owner of the land, it was found that the land at Ekuria Mouza (RS khatian (record) 237’s 46 No. zone. SA serial No. 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17) is owned by Dhaka Multi Agricultural Complex Ltd.
Yet the names of Abu Sayed and Abu Hossain were mentioned in their fake deed, which was given to the EWPD, that they got the land on exchange deed.
Asked about how the land of one company could be exchanged by another company and in that case, how the mutation proposal was approved and signed, Ranajit Chandra Nath, assistant land office of the union land office, said that he joined a few days ago.
“I think a big mistake has been made in this regard. It seems the person who signed on the namjari (mutation) proposal paper did in good faith being requested by any reliable persons of the office,” he said.
The officer added that they often receive applications for mutation based on fake deeds and they try their best to avoid such proposals.
While visiting the spot and talking to local people, it was learnt that Abu Sayed and Abu Hossain took money from many people for selling the piece of land.
Of the locals, Swapan Ali Sheikh, Shamsul Haque and Ramzan Ali said that what they so long knew was that Dhaka Multi-Agricultural Complex Ltd owned the land.
“But now it is being told that Abu Sayed and Abu Hossain are the owners of the land,” one of them said.
Abu Hossain could not be contacted. Abu Sayed said that they recovered the land and would sell it.
“We have taken money from 15 people to sell the land, but did not register to anybody.”
Showing a deed of their ancestors, he said he never appointed any Power of Attorney and sold the land. He added that they had the land mutated.
As per the information of the union land office and the office of the assistant commissioner (land), his statements on new deed and not selling the land had been proved false earlier.
Visiting the Keraniganj model sub-registry office, it was learnt that Abu Sayed appointed the Power of Attorney that proved such a deed in 2006. According to the record book’s serial No. 8,637, the Abu Sayed appointed the Power of Attorney and the deed No. 8,597.
The signature of the sub-register did not match at several points.
The officers concerned think all the signatures on the deed were counterfeited. Even after that, some officers of the land office signed the mutation proposal.
When contacted, kanungo (public surveyor) of Keraniganj Revenue Circle (South) Nazmul Hossain said all the officers concerned of their office signed the namjari proposal.
“Many applications are lodged for mutations. It is always not possible to check every document. It is always not possible to check if the deeds were registered at the sub-registry offices. We can take steps if cases are lodged with us,” he said.
Abu Riad, assistant commissioner (land) of Keraniganj Revenue Circle (South), said that mutation had no value if it is based on counterfeited deeds.
“We will give rapid solution if the victim files a MIS case,” he said.
The officers of Dhaka Multi Agricultural Complex Ltd said that they were not served any notice before the mutation though it is a legal obligation.