The allegations of Toronto-based Nirmal Singh belie the claims of quick justice to non-resident Indians (NRIs) in Punjab. He alleges that the land mafia has usurped his 14-acre field near Moga with the connivance of police and the backing of state agriculture minister Tota Singh.
Nirmal Singh of Burj Hamira village in Nihal Singh Wala subdivision had purchased the land in 2003 at Rania on the Moga-Barnala road. Before flying off to Canada in 2009, he had prepared a power of attorney in the name of close relatives Sawarn Singh and Balbir Singh to make them caretakers of this property.
The NRI said that in Toronto in 2010, he had got to know that Sawarn Singh had presented an imposter as Nirmal Singh, forged the power of attorney, and sold off about 10 of the 14 acres to Mohinder Singh and his wife, Harbans Kaur, of Lalton Kalan village in Ludhiana district with the connivance of property dealer and former Akali sarpanch Kuldip Singh of Chur Chakk village.
He had to move the Punjab and Haryana high court to get a first-information report (FIR) registered against Sawarn Singh; Mohinder Singh; his wife, Harbans Kaur; and six others for forgery and cheating at the NRI police station of Moga. He had also filed a complaint against Kuldip Singh, Ludhiana tehsildar Resham Singh and Nihalsinghwala tehsildar Jagsir Singh for their alleged role in the transfer of land on forged documents but said the NRI police had omitted their names from the FIR because of their influence.
In Toronto, he got to know that some people were trying to occupy the land. It took him many telephone calls to India to ensure police action against the offenders. The police did arrest 11 people on June 13 from the site and confiscated a rifle as well.
Sensing trouble, Nirmal returned to India on June 22 and met senior officers. Moga deputy commissioner Parminder Singh Gill and senior superintendent of police Gursharan Singh Sandhu assured him he could do so in the presence of a tehsildar. The Moga police, however, told him he could not enter his fields, as the land was disputed.
Officials even suggested that he secured bail, which he refused, as he did not want to be embroiled in litigation. Asked why Nirmal was barred from own land, Nihal Singh Wala SDM Joyti Bala Mattu said it was to prevent a law and order situation. DSP Baljit Singh said the other party had also laid claim to the land. When confronted that the matter was civil and legal and not criminal, the DSP said the other side had filed a similar complaint.
Punjab agriculture minister Tota Singh accepted upfront that he was aware of the case but claimed that Nirmal Singh was on the wrong side of the law. “Nirmal Singh faces two criminal cases. I am not supporting anyone but the other party has also claimed the land. Let there be a fair inquiry,” he added.
The NRI alleged that to intimidate him, the Moga police had registered a false case against him in 2010, about accepting money for human trafficking. The high court quashed the FIR in September 2010.
“Quick justice for NRIs is all sham. It’s the high and mighty who rule the roost,” said Nirmal.