Saturday, 31 October 2009

Murders most foul: Killings over property disputes in Hyderabad

U Sudhakar Reddy
In an alarming trend, city police reveals that 60 per cent of the 2,423 murders, that take place every year in the state, are due to property rows. In many cases, people are kidnapped and mercilessly murdered. Whether it's over a small piece of land or a tiny house shared by family members, quarrels erupt, fists fly and knives appear. Some don't hesitate to even hire assassins to do the job.When larger plots of land are involved, things can get worse.Land grabbers appear and more blood is spilled.
Though the slump in real estate business has reduced the activities of the land mafia, property disputes within families and business partners have been the cause for many brutal murders in the city.
Once common only in the faction ridden areas of Palnadu in Guntur and Anantapur, murders over land disputes have now spread to urban and semi-urban areas. "Apart from sexual jealousy, property disputes are the prime reasons for murder," says Dr M. Narayana Reddy, forensics expert of the Osmania Medical College. He adds that while many murders are pre-planned, there are some that occur in a fit of rage.
In January 2009, Mohammed Ghouse and his wife Miraj Fathima were hacked to death by the latter's brothers at Old City due to a property dispute. In May, Vamsidhar Rao, a realtor, was murdered after a dispute over 250 square yards of land in Mettuguda when he was forced to sign on blank papers. In yet another incident, Kaleemullah and Sameer shot dead a businessman Aiyaz Ahmed in August, after an altercation over a land deal.
Cyberabad tops the list of property dispute murders. Around 182 murders take place here in a year.This year alone 105 murders have been committed due to property disputes.
In July 2009, the Task Force arrested Yaseen Bee who hired two assassins to kill her husband after an altercation with him over property. She had allegedly promised the assassins Rs 30,000 to do the job. A month before that, S. Janga Reddy, a ward member of Dammaiguda village, was murdered by his business partner, over a real estate deal.
"The land mafia also produces fake registration documents, registering the same property in the name of several persons, filing false cases and of course, forcible possession of land," said a senior police officer. "Most of the noted land grabbers in the city are either politicians or sons of politicians or they have strong political nexus," he adds. Thanks to this, they easily wriggle out of cases.
In fact, police does not even have a list of land grabbers of the city. The Cyberabad police, who earlier announced plans to start a rogues' gallery of land grabbers, dropped the project.
However, the Cyberabad DCP (Crimes), Surya Prakash, says land grabbing by Rayalseema gangs has reduced in the city."There were nearly 1,000 cases a year during the real estate boom,"he says, adding, "Now we are only getting 200 cases. Murders triggered by property disputes are more common in rural and semiurban areas than in urban areas."

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