Vikram Gujral of Delhi’s Old Rajinder Nagar and Kamal Kishore Khosla of the 2006 blockbuster have an uncanny resemblance. Both of them had bought plots decades ago in the then developing outskirts of Delhi and hoped to build houses when they retired. And during a casual visit to their plots one day, both found their property grabbed by land sharks.
The 2021 edition of “Khosla Ka Ghosla” was unearthed in Gurugram this month when police lifted the veil of a gang that sold plots in Sushant Lok and Palam Vihar by forging documents of their original owners, most of whom are non-resident Indians.
Although three members of the gang were arrested on February 5 from a rented house in Sector 38, the kingpin is believed to be hiding in Dubai. Police said that over the past four years, the gang had sold plots to around 200 unsuspecting buyers from across NCR and made more than Rs 500 crore.
In most cases, the original owners are still unaware that their plots have been grabbed and sold to others with forged documents. It’s not that the police were unaware of the frauds, but the meticulousness with which the gang prepared the fake papers raised few eyebrows.
Over the past two years, the police had registered nine FIRs in total, formed a special investigation team (SIT) of senior officers and announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh on each gang member.
But the gang continued to elude the SIT, which included the DCP (east), ACP (DLF) and the SHO of Sushant Lok police station. The case was eventually handed over to the crime branch.
The new police team scanned the bank accounts through which the transactions for the plots had been made and followed the trail of money for months to finally nab the three members last week.
The accused have been identified as Kavita Rani alias Riya (33), Rahul (29) and Ranveer Kumar (49), all of whom are from Punjab. They are now in judicial custody.
So, how did they commit the fraud?
The gang members would look for land lying idle for years and then start some kind of construction on it to see if anyone objected. If nobody did, they would fish out details of the original owners from the developer’s office and forge their documents.
A member of the gang would pose as a relative of the owner and submit another set of fake papers to prove his identity.
The plot would then be transferred to this “relative” as a gift deed in the tehsil office. Sources said the documents were forged to such detail that it would not raise any suspicion in the tehsil office.
According to police, Kavita Rani had made a fake passport in the name of Riya Sehgal and used it to open a bank account.
“This account was primarily used to make the transactions. A transaction of Rs 1.5 crore was recently made through this account,” said Preet Pal Sagwan, the ACP (crime).
Similarly, Rahul posed as Rahul Soni and Ranveer as Jasveer. “They, too, had opened accounts with fake documents. Transactions worth several crores were done through these accounts,” the ACP added.
The police said a Punjab youth named Kunal would help the gang forge the documents. Another gang member, Ajay Sehgal, would help with the opening of bank accounts and the fraudulent transactions.
However, the kingpin, named by the police as Sanjay Kathuria, is still at large and believed to be in Dubai. According to the police, Kathuria had been jailed earlier for similar frauds and started this gang after coming out in 2018.
But, Kathuria, for sure, knew how to keep his gang members happy. He would take them to Dubai often for trips and paid Rs 50,000-1.5 lakh to those who posed as the owner and his relative, depending on the magnitude of the fraud.
“For routing the money, he needed multiple bank accounts. So, the gang has made transactions worth Rs 523 crore,” said Sangwan, adding that the Enforcement Directorate had been informed about the fraud.
For the owners, most of whom had not enquired about their land for years, it was an eye-opener. Vikram Gujral, who had bought a plot in block C of Sushant Lok in March 2012, had made a casual visit to his property six years later when he found some digging work in progress. The people there told him that the digging was being done by one Sahil Gogia. When Gujral contacted him, he was told that Gogia had bought the plot from one Vibha. Realising that his plot had been grabbed, he filed an FIR at Sushant Lok police station.
Similarly, Anoop Singh Dhankar, who, too, had purchased a plot in Block C in 1993, got a call from his friend in January 2019 that someone named Vibha had bought his plot. “The entire thing was a fraud,” said Dhankar.