The Sara Sahara shopping complex in Crawford market has been flirting with danger ever since it came to light it may be a benami property of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and has been built on disputed land in collusion with corrupt civic officials.
The Mumbai police had arrested Dawood Ibrahim’s brother Iqbal Kaskar, a builder, and four officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in 2003 on charges of using force on the original occupant of the area, then known as Moonim Compound. However, they were acquitted by a special court in June 2007.
Controversy took a new turn with investigations showing that the land belonged to the central public works department (CPWD), which claimed that the land was leased to one MA Moonim on monthly basis in 1939 by the British government.
After Moonim’s death in 1979, people started encroaching the property. The CPWD also claimed that it had not entered into agreement with any other party. It was alleged that Kaskar, with BMC officials, acquired the property illegally on the pretext of carrying out repairs.
The CPWD appointed an estate officer in 2008 to determine the rights of those occupying the property. The officer ruled against the tenants in December 2010 and issued eviction notice to them.
The tenants approached the court, which, in May, directed the tenants to vacate the property. They then filed an appeal, after which the Bombay high court referred the matter back to the estate officer.