Layout residents harassed

Unchecked land mafia in a Bangalore suburb continues to harass innocent site owners and residents despite repeated complaints to the police.

Doddanagamangala, a village approximately two kms from Electronic City junction has been struggling against all odds. It has no roads, no water, no KEB connection and no sanitation. About 30 families live in single room sheds with asbestos sheet roof above their heads to protect them from sun and rain, with water supplied in tractors once a week.

About 200 people, a majority of them from economically weaker sections of the society, had purchased land from local farmers when land was available at an affordable price since the area did not have any amenities. Settlements in the area took place between 2000-2004. Though many individuals approached authorities for civic amenities like power, water, road and drainage, all their pleas went unheard.

Doddamangala Houses

Doddamangala Houses (Pic: Santo K Joseph)

Site owners have constructed many small houses in the locality and await the mercy of BESCOM for a power connection and BWSSB for water to start living there. They can only hope and pray that one day they will see light. But such houses have become a haven for sons of the night- poor people living in the area are unable to bear the wild screams of notorious elements and drunken brawls as night falls. Thieves and rowdy elements have started damaging property and stealing valuables from built houses. Over a period of two months all the unmanned houses in the area lost doors, windows, grills, roof sheets etc. Now the people residing in the area fear that they would be the next targets.

No one knows who these people are and people who live there do not come out of their homes after night fall. These anti-social elements come in a few two wheelers after 9 PM. Residents do not know how many come or if it is the same gang. Going by their screams and shouting, people suspect there are at least 10 of them. Many complaints have been filed with the Parappana Agrahara police station, with no fruitful action so far.

Land mafia swings into operation

With prices of the property in the area going up over the years, some of the previous land owners have joined anti-social elements to chase people out and encroach on property. They have started blocking all developmental activities in the area and begun to extort money from site owners who intended to construct houses or compound walls.

When an individual begins construction, a group of goons led by one of the ex-owners threatens damage to the person and his property, unless money (Rupees one lakh or more) is paid up. Fearing loss of property and to avoid trouble, some site owners give in. Thus it has become the order of the day and ex-owners expect everyone to follow suit and succumb to their demands.

The need for survival finally resulted in some people getting together and forming an association of site owners to fight for the common cause, under the leadership of S Joseph, a retired MTNL legal advisor and a site owner, among others. The association was registered in the name of ‘Doddanagamangala Extension Residents Association’ in 2007 (Reg No. SHV-4-00051-2007-08).

It was an uphill task for the committee members of the association to locate site owners, as their details were available only with the previous owner who did not want the association to be formed. However, determined committee members located them. Membership of the association has now grown to 120. Anbu, Shivaji Rao, Mary, Jagannath, and Mary Basavaraj are some of the site owners and people of Doddanagamangala extension.

A couple of months ago the association with 90 applications from site owners successfully approached BESCOM for power connection in the area. With news of development, anti-social elements have started attacking properties of the committee members of the association and razed down houses and compound walls. Though many complaints have been given to the police, no action has been initiated against these aggressors till date. The association now plans to move the court to seek justice.

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