Cheated depositors of fraudulent company on indefinite dharna

They condemn delay by authorities to refund their deposits by auctioning seized properties of company

“I sold my land and deposited ₹1 lakh in the company about 8 years ago. I lost my land as well as the money” rued Siddaraju, 35, a resident of Dandikere village in Varuna near here, who is now eking out a living as a construction worker to feed his family.

He was among the several cheated depositors of Green Buds Agro Farm Company, who had gathered outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Mysuru for an indefinite dharna against the delay by the authorities to refund their deposits by auctioning the seized properties of the company that defrauded them.

Similiarly, Hussain Peer, a native of Challakere in Chitradurga district, had not only deposited his own ₹4 lakh, but also deposits running into several lakhs of rupees belonging to his fellow villagers. “After I deposited the money, I was encouraged by the company to act as an agent and collect the deposits of people from my village. After the company’s fraud came to light, I was attacked in the village and beaten black and blue. I have now fled my village and am staying in my sister’s house in Davangere”, said.

Nagaraj from Baradanpura in Mysuru taluk, who was also one of the “agents”, said the company sourced much of its deposits from such agents instead of directly accepting the deposits. “Not only have we lost our deposits, we find it difficult to explain to the people, who had deposited their hard earned money in the company”, he said.

The depositors, who began their indefinite dharna on Monday, cooked food at the protest site near the Deputy Commissioner’s office and held an “urulu seve” programme on Tuesday. During the protest, one of the depositors from Ballari tried to commit suicide by consuming poison. However, alert police officials and other protesters managed to quickly snatch the bottle from the Peer Sab, 57, a native of Ballari, and rushed him to K.R. Hospital, where he is undergoing treatment.

Leader of the Green Buds Agro Farm Company Depositors Protection Forum Lakshmidevi told The Hindu that the company had a number of deposit schemes – fixed, recurring deposit and pigmy collection – for doubling the deposit in five years.

More than 1.8 lakh depositors from different parts of Karnataka had paid varying sums of money through more than 73 branches of the company. But, when they were unable to return the deposits, a case was filed against the promoters of the company in 2013, leading to their arrest. “A total of 123 FIRs have been filed”, she said.

Subsequently, then State government headed by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah ordered a CID probe, which submitted a report to the government after which orders were issued in 2016 to confiscate the company’s properties in Kodagu and Koppal, besides the land it had acquired in Mandya, Davangere, Chamarajanagar and Mysuru district out of the deposits collected from the people.

Though more than 1.8 lakh people had submitted their claims in 2018 to the Assistant Commissioner of Mysuru, the Competent Authority appointed by the Government, the authorities are yet to submit the details of the seized property to the special court and begin the process of auctioning the property to refund the money to the depositors, said Karnataka Sugarcane Growers’ Association President Kurubur Shanthakumar, who joined the protesters.

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