Over 250 villagers recently gathered at the Talathi's office in Panvel, alleging that they were conned to sell their land by the Panch, who told them that they should sell off the land to fight against the government's plan to confiscate the 83 acres of land, which was given to them for cultivation.
"The government gave the land to poor farmers for cultivation. Sometime back, our Panch told us that government was planning to take the land back and in order to meet the expenses of putting up a fight, we need to sell a part of the land. Recently, we found out that 2.5 acres of the land had been sold to actor Salman Khan without even seeking any clearance from us, which is mandatory. Nobody knows where the money went," The Times of India quoted Vishnu Patil, a resident of the village, as saying.
Now, the people of Vaje village, which is home to 307 families, alleged that the remaining of 81 acres have also been sold. “The Panch gave us the same story and we agreed assuming that it was in our interest. We were conned into signing documents. It was much later that we found out that the land was being sold to a political bigwig for profit," said Ganesh Patil. “Though we did get some money from the second sale, we are all against letting outsiders grab it. We want all our land back," added another resident.
Following a complaint filed by the villagers, the Collector of Raigadh District has ordered an inquiry into the scam. The Raigadh District Collector had earlier circulated that sale of the land belonging to the villagers is a cognisable offence.
The Panch and Harbhans Singh have their own stories to tell but Chandrasen Pawar, Nayab Tehsildar of Panvel, said that land belonging to the entire village couldn't be sold or bought. He added that they could question the Panch and the buyers after hearing from the villagers.