About 400 people were allegedly duped by a colonising body -- St Jude Colonizers -- on the pretext of allotting them residential plots after making them members of a co-operative housing society.
The victims of the alleged fraud formed a body called St Jude Colony Members Redressal Forum and approached the administration.
“In 2009, we were approached by six people -- John Cherian, Richard D Silva, Vipin Topo, Roy John Thatta, Jery Paul and Saji Thomas -- who said they will form a co-operative housing society to allot residential plots to those who become members and belong to the Christian community,” said Mathew Abraham, convener of the St Jude Colony Members Redressal Forum.
He said they all agreed to the idea and the six accused took money from 400 people for registration. They promised them plots and farmhouses for prices ranging between Rs 100 and Rs 150 per sqft.
“They collected Rs 5 crore from the members in the name of installments for the payment of the residential plots meant for building houses and farmhouses. We all came to know about their fraud after they gave the payment receipt on which the name of the body was written as St Jude Colonisers instead of St Jude Housing Co-operative Society,” Abraham added.
“Later we also came to know that the six men had brought a land of about 16 acres in their own names for Rs 1.23 crore taken out of the collected amount.”
After noticing a change in the name of the body, the victims asked the accused the reason behind it.
“They said it was a printing mistake and will soon be rectified, but it never happened,” he said.
The land bought by them was an agricultural land located at Savania Onkara village in Bhopal without the required permits. “Despite buying the land, they did not allot any plots to the members after which we approached the district collector of Bhopal in 2014,” said Abraham adding that the collector then ordered an investigation in the matter and found the six men guilty.
He said the accused were called before the collector where they promised in written that they will allot the plots to the members by May, 2015.
“Despite the promise, they again failed to allot any plots after which then additional collector ordered an FIR against the six. After coming to know about the order, the accused allotted a few plots to some of the members but without fulfilling the required formalities.”
The accused did not return the remaining amount of about Rs 3.5 crore which was left after buying the land. The accused also failed to provide a detailed map of the colony.
Abraham said the victims then submitted a complaint to the Ayodhya Nagar police station in April.
“We have asked the police to wait for some time before registering a case as the accused have assured us that they will soon allot the plots to all the members by completing all due formalities,” said Abraham.
However, secretary of St Jude Colonizers Richard DSilva rejected the allegations.
“We accept that we are late in allotting the plots to the members but we did not cheat any of them. We have allotted plots to about 170-180 members at the promised rate. We have also submitted proper documents and papers. We will soon allot the plots to the remaining members,” said DSilva.