BHUBANESWAR: Controversial builders seem to be running an empire of hooliganism in the city, if the murder of Manmohan Pradhan is any indication.
Police have come to know that the killers, eight in number, were goons working for a city-based builder. "Their job is to provide security to the realtor. Investigation revealed that all of them have criminal antecedents," a police officer said.
Police have identified three of the accused, but refused to divulge their names.
Police are interrogating the builder on why he had employed the musclemen in his company. While the realtor's office at Laxmisagar was found locked on Tuesday, police sources said the builder used the goons to sort out issues relating to land disputes. "We have learnt that the builder was involved in land grabbing cases. It is under verification," the police officer said.
It is not the first time that criminals hired by builders have been found involved in crimes in the city. Goons of a real estate businessman had killed another builder, Krushna Chandra Nayak, at Nayapalli on August 12. There have been cases where builders and their henchmen have either grabbed lands or attacked duped investors.
"The goons often terrorize innocent people duped by real estate companies. In Khandagiri last year, some anti-socials by a builder attacked a man who lodged a complaint after being cheated in a land deal," said Sidharth Das, a lawyer. Recently, musclemen hired by a realtor barged into the house of a woman in Saheed Nagar and forcibly took her signature on a blank paper.
"Just as the Supreme Court had in the past asked banks and finance companies not to deploy musclemen to recover loans, stringent laws should be formulated against the dubious real estate companies," Das added.
"All builders or developers are not relying on goons. Those who usurp lands and cheat people hire the musclemen. It is a disturbing trend," said Sumant Hota, a realtor.