Heggade dismisses land grab charges

Allegations against his nephew in Sowjanya case false, he says

Dharmasthala Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade has dismissed allegations of land scam made against him by an NGO.

Heggade said the land was provided “during his grandfather’s period” and it was up to the government to take a call on the allegations.

To another query on the charges made against his nephew regarding the rape and murder of Sowjanya, a student from Ujire who died on October 16, 2012, he said he was pained by the allegations levelled against him, his family members and devotees of Dharmasthala.

The victim’s family has alleged that Heggade’s nephew was involved in Sowjanya’s rape and murder. “I will place the allegations at the feet of Annappa Swami and Lord Manjunatha and the Lord will provide justice,” he said.

Alleging that the NGO, Nagarika Seva Trust, Hindu leader Mahesh Shetty Thimarodi and Kemar Mutt seer had linked the Sowjanya murder case to Dharmasthala, he said it was the duty of the police to investigate the case and he would not interfere in it.  

Meanwhile, writers, artistes and members of the film fraternity have condemned the allegations made against Heggade by the family members of Sowjanya.

At a press conference in Bangalore, writer Kamala Hampana said, “We cannot let such allegations spread without evidence.”

Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat chairperson B L Shankar said people must refrain from making false allegations against anyone and the government must take action against such people.

Home Minister K J George said the CID has been asked to submit its investigation report into the Sowjanya murder case at the earliest. He admitted that there is now a clamour to hand over the investigation into the murder case to the CBI.

Nagarika Seva Trust president Somanatha Nayak had, on Tuesday, made serious allegations against Heggade of furnishing false declarations before the Land Tribunal and urged the government to probe into it and reclaim the land which he has been holding illegally and distribute it among poor dalits.

Speaking to mediapersons after releasing documents obtained through RTI, he said, “We had collected the order copy (dated March 6, 2012) of the Land Tribunal in a case pertaining to the declaration made before the Tribunal in 1974. As per the declaration, of the 4,671 acres of agriculture land, 3,620 acres was given to tenants. Out of the remaining 1,050 acres, only 137 acre land is farm land. In the declaration, the land has been divided into deemed conversion land, plantation land and converted land.

Without the government’s order, agriculture land cannot be declared as deemed conversion. However, no order has been issued in this regard, on deemed conversion, by the government,” he said.

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