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Dispute over the Russian Embassy land

24 February 2015 05:17 am - 5     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Politics of corruption and corruption of politics are major topics in Sri Lanka. This corruption is shaped to benefit the eyes of the beholder. As such, corruption is a habit, a past time of many characters in this political drama. At times a comedy, at times a thriller and rarely does it shows features of a musical, this drama is worth the watch. Misuse of power to reach other’s property is a common sighting in this arena. However such matters often get swept under the carpet and fall into the category of ‘mysterious secrets’. Adding to this volume is another incident of allegedly questionable acquisition of land to construct the Russian Embassy by the VIPs of the previous regime.

 


The inaugural opening of the ‘Deyata Kirula’ exhibition took place in 2006 and for this the organizers were in need of a car park. For this purpose, Mervyn Silva who was a Deputy Minister at the time requested Thahir to give them some space in his land to park vehicles for a week

 


The incident in brief
This land situated in the Bauddhaloka Mawatha was bought in 1933 by its first residents Vappu Ibrahim and his son Ismail. Ismail then handed over this land to his son Ismail Mohamed Thahir through a deed of gift under the certification number 1628 in 1974. In 2004 Thahir bought 23.4 perches of this land and carried out his own businesses. In addition to that 25 families resided in it which sums up to about 150 people. 
 

Proper protocols were met



The Daily Mirror contacted Satya Rodrigo, Director Communications for Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs who said that the proper protocols were met before the land was owned by the Russian Embassy. “You can not say that the land was illegally given away. The UDA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Colombo Municipal Council were aware of what was going on.”
The inaugural opening of the ‘Deyata Kirula’ exhibition took place in 2006 and for this the organizers were in need of a car park. For this purpose, Mervyn Silva who was a Deputy Minister at the time allegedly requested Thahir to give them some space in his land to park vehicles for a week. Thereafter through a written request to the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) MP Mervyn got the CMC to carpet 2 acres of this land through funds amounting to Rs. 79 lakhs from 11 ministers. After the exhibition ended there was no sign of giving back the land as promised and it remained to be a car park. Since Thahir’s land was not returned back, the case number CA/WRIT/48/2007 was filed in the Appeal Court on January 16, 2007. Before this case was filed the police and some officials of the Urban Development Authority (UDA) stepped in to Thahir’s land without permission and allegedly damaged his property where the damage is over 2.5 million. Although he informed this to the President and Prime Minister of the former regime, Chairman of Police Commission, Inspector General of Police and the Human Rights Commission there was no use. 



The murder
While the case was going on and with Thahir under severe stress with more pressure he receives a phone call on February 9, 2007 and he went to the Borella junction where he was shot dead. Before this incident he was threatened several times. With his death all documents with regard to the case were also misplaced. Up until now the police have received no information regarding this murder. After his death there was no interested party to continue the case and therefore the case was dismissed. Thereafter his property was handed over to two of his children from another marriage and after the purchase of this property they were promised to be given Rs. 70 million by the court. However since Thahir was not married according to the Islamic law they were not given the property. This deed was also proved to be a forged document although it was registered by the Land Registry and due to this issue the land was handed over to Ms. Beghum. Thahir’s first wife and her four children. 



The Embassy of Russia comes in to action
Issues were getting messed up by the day and on December 2, 2010 Ms. Beghum came across an advertisement which stated that 2 acres of the land were now being owned by the Russian Embassy. To her dismay a 12 feet high aluminium boundary has been built up for this construction. On November 26, 2011 she learned that the then Minister of Foreign Affairs had handed over this land to the Russian Embassy and in addition to that the foundation stone had also been laid. Ms. Beghum hasn’t come across any documents with the site map or permission from the CMC. She was also requested to come and visit the legal department of the UDA to hand over all documents with regard to this issue on February 20, 2012. 

During her visit, a  Senior Assistant Secretary had stated that the land has been handed over to the Russian Embassy and that she would be notified of the compensation that she would receive. 

She then comes across three people who asks her to pay them 30% of the compensation that she receives after she was asked to sell the land. One of the three  has served as a coordinator to former powerful minister related to the first family while the other had served as a coordinating secretary to powerful ministry secretary. Later on in response to a letter she sent to the then Defence Ministry, she learned that this land is now being looked after by a member of the former first family and that if she wants to settle this issue she should pay a sum of Rs. 5 lakhs per perch to the the Defence Ministry. These three people have once forced Ms. Beghum to sell the land at a meeting they had at a star class hotel.



The present situation
This land was said to have illegally acquired by the then Minister of Defence and to investigate further the Anti-corruption Front visited the site on February 2, 2015. Here a few Russian officials had interfered with their mission.  Making matters even worse there has been documents which showed that former powerful VVIP  had bought 86.4 perches of this land for Rs.500 million in order to build an headquarters for a security firm.   
 
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  Comments - 5

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  • BuffaloaCitizen Tuesday, 24 February 2015 12:59 PM

    A similar activity which presently houses the Carlton Montessori at Templars Road was acquired in the same manner.

    BuffaloaCitizen Tuesday, 24 February 2015 12:59 PM

    A similar activity which presently houses the Carlton Montessori at Templars Road was acquired in the same manner.

    upali Tuesday, 24 February 2015 01:19 PM

    Is this democracy or autocracy.Mara dictatorship at its worst.Another acquisition by Putin, Ukraine style.RUSSI GET OUT

    Raj Tuesday, 24 February 2015 04:23 PM

    I guarantee that this original land owner will NOT get justice. All will settle as time goes by. Our country is in ruin. Advice to my TAMIL people.....survival of the fittest....just keep fighting.

    Mustafa Tuesday, 24 February 2015 04:46 PM

    The original land to be handed over to the legal owner, GOTA is the hero behind all this drama, he had earned billions by selling lands of others in sri lanka. May God save all poor people from politicians in sri lanka.MM


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