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Amnesty International India today demanded probe into alleged fraudulent sale of tribal lands in Ghargoda development block of Chhattisgarh's Raigarh district. "Police must conduct investigation into allegations by over 80 Adivasi villagers that they were unlawfully dispossessed of their lands by people acting as agents of two private companies," said Karthik Navayan, programme manager (business and human rights), Amnesty International India. The villagers yesterday submitted a complaint to the special police station for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Raigarh. They alleged that they were forced to sell their lands through intimidation and misinformation to the 'agents' of two power generation firms. These transactions, mostly benami (through proxy), took place between 2004 to 2011 at Khokhraaoma, Katangdi, Bhengari and Nawapara Tenda villages, said Navayan. Gram sabhas of these villages have passed resolutions stating that lands were purchased through fraud and coercion, he said. Some villagers alleged that they were not paid the amount mentioned in the sale deed.
Many claimed that their land was bought at a price far below the market value, he said. Pavitri Manjhi, sarpanch of Benghari village, told reporters that the middlemen involved in these transactions adopted various means to persuade or force villagers to sell off their lands. In some cases, villagers were lured with liquor, he said. A senior police official from Raigarh district told PTI that police were conducting a preliminary enquiry.
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