Real estate brokers starts Human Rights business

CHENNAI: Real estate brokers in the city, after the fall in the business because of the meltdown, seem to be looking at alternative ways of earning money. The Peravallur police on Tuesday arrested three who, posing as State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) members, allegedly threatened an export firm owner and tried to extort Rs 3 lakh from him.
Muruga Chidambaranath, who runs New Born Exports’ in Peravallur, lodged a complaint with the police alleging that eight persons, claiming that they represented the SHRC and were members of the “All-India Human Rights Committee,” demanded Rs 3 lakh for not filing a case of human rights violation against him. They also threatened the closure of his business establishment if he did not pay up.

The complainant said that because of the slump in the market and owing to last week’s lorry strike, he hadn’t been able to pay salaries to a few of his employees and that the gang used this as reason for extorting money. Police said only Rs 25,000 was due towards the salaries of the workers and Chidambaranath was not in a position to pay the amount demanded by the eight men, forcing him to lodge a complaint.

The police said Devakumar (30) of Madhavaram, Dinesh Raj (28) of Perambur, Satishkumar (25) of Kolathur and two others, all real estate brokers, approached Muruga Chidambaranath and threatened him. Police said the gang had formed the organisation only to extort money from company owners who had problems with their employees.

According to the police, one of Chidambaranath’s employees who was a neighbour of Devakumar informed him about the problems in the company regarding the payment of wages. Devakumar and company then took this as an opportunity and began blackmailing the company owner.

“Initially they demanded Rs 3 lakh and then brought it down to Rs 1 lakh. However, the company owner was not ready to pay and he lodged a complaint with us. Then as per our direction, he told the gangsters he was ready to pay the amount on Tuesday evening and asked them to come to the company. When they came to collect the amount, we managed to arrest three of them. Two members managed to flee,” a police official said.

Police registered a case and began a search for the escaped gang members.

22 Jan 2009, TNN

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