Kochi: The state home department had ordered an inquiry by the crime branch into the allegations of land grabbing in Munnar by several persons including those who are in the dock in the latest eviction drive, official records say. However, there has been little progress in the investigation and the group has gone on to conduct ‘spiritual tourism’ programmes to the spot at Pappathichola Medu it allegedly encroached, according to revenue sources. An order of the home department dated August 30, 2013, had directed the crime branch of the state police to form a special team under the direct supervision of the additional director general of police (crime branch) to investigate and bring before the law persons who forged documents and encroached land in Idukki district and the officials who helped such people.
The order mentions the deals by Vellookkunnel Scaria and his sons, Babu Cherian, Thachankari group, Kanjirathinkal Mohanan and Reji Sebastian, among others. Mr Scaria and his son Tomy Scaria are allegedly behind the ‘Spirit in Jesus’ movement which installed the cross which the revenue officials removed on Thursday. Environmentalists in the region allege that the group has encroached on at least 30 acres of the over 2000 acres of government land in the hill. Most of the people who claim land in the region had no clear titles or documents, they alleged.
The group has constructed make-shift structures at the spot and has been bringing believers on the first Friday of every month, according to local residents. It is understood that the revenue department had in March this year asked the group to dismantle the structures and remove the cross on its own. The department was forced to take action after the group refused to do the job on its own. Meanwhile, the group said in a representation to the chief minister that the cross was erected on a land owned by one Maria Susai and that that there are government records to prove it.