In the past few weeks, over 550 complaints had been lodged with police after special anti-land grabbing cells were set up in all the districts, police said.
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa during her assembly election campaign made land grabbing a major plank, alleging that powerful DMK men were involved in it and vowed to crush it.
In many instances, complaints have been filed against local DMK functionaries but party Treasurer and former Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin dismissed them as cases lacking evidence.
"These are all cases filed without any evidence. We will face it," he said recently.
The anti-land grabbing cells were set up on instructions of Additional General General of Police (Law and Order) S George, according to police sources who, however, maintain there was no political overtone to their action.
George said "there were some who used power in various ways for different means but now more and more number of people are approaching the police."
Chennai's suburbs, particularly in adjoining Kancheepuram district, had seen an increase in land grabbing incidence as real estate prices have shot up in the area of late.
The district has become the preferred choice of IT and multi-national companies, including automakers, in view of its proximity to Chennai.
"The creation of these cells has been well received by the public. We have received over 80 complaints. These cells are helping us focus more on these issues," Kancheepuram District Superintendent of Police S Manoharan told PTI.
"We have assigned one Sub Inspector and one constable each in all police stations to focus on land grabbing," he said.Police attribute the regime change after the assembly elections as a major reason for the spurt in the number of land grabbing complaints.
"The victims could not approach the police (during the DMK regime) fearing the political clout of those involved in land grabbings. But now they are confident that the police can help them get their land back," said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity.
Explaining the modus operandi of land grabbers, the official said anti-social elements with political backing would encroach a vacant land, preferrably in a prime area.
When the land owner objects, he would demand money citing his political influence. Then there were instances of lands being grabbed even without political backing, another police officer said, adding, in these cases NRIs were the main target.
"Mostly NRIs'' land were focussed. Brokers who had contacts in the sub-registrar offices gathered information about lands whose owners live abroad. They keep a tab on these lands for some time and sell it to innocent buyers by forging documents," he said.Besides, there were also complaints about sellers being cheated after execution of the land deals when the property is registered for lower value than the guideline value to reduce stamp duty.
"The government sets a guideline value for land. Mostly these are not followed. When a prospective buyer approaches the seller and pays a part of the total sum, some sellers complete the legal procedures hoping that the remaining amount would be paid after the registration.
"But once the papers are registered, the buyer declines to pay the remaining. In these cases,even police can't do much," said Assistant Commissioner Chandrasekaran, Anti-Land Grabbing Wing of Central Crime Branch.