The news of the arrest of Moses João Fernandes, a much sought after man in connection with three cases of land fraud -- most famously that of Dr Otilia Mascarenhas’ house -- after a hunt of more than three years is a mixed bag.
Moses was, according to the police, picked up from a shack at Arossim on the evening of March 1, where he was working as a cook and escaped the police net living a ‘nomadic’ life doing odd jobs in exchange for meals until finally his luck ran out.
While the arrest of Moses is no doubt welcome, he being one of the first names to come to light no sooner the news of the fraudulent deals broke, it is indeed surprising that the Goa Police took so long to arrest him.
For a man to be able to remain under the radar despite it
being public knowledge that he is a wanted man in a case that has made headlines is indeed bemusing. More than anything, it raises questions on the urgency being displayed by the
police in these cases -- three of them have come to light, but there could be more. In cases where relatives and heirs are abroad and uninterested in ancestral land or there are no legal heirs, there is no one
to file a case or contest the fraudulent sale.
One will recall how the alleged ‘mastermind’ Mohammed Sohail who is believed to have approached people like Moses and
Estevan D’Souza to sign on documents pretending to be buyers, sellers and power of attorney holders in exchange for sums of money, was granted bail after spending barely weeks behind bars.
The fact that Moses secured anticipatory bail no sooner Dr Otilia filed her case (before it was handed over to the Economic Offences Cell) also speaks volumes of the efficacy of the police only adding to the suspicion that there are bigger and possibly even political players involved in this.
It is imperative now, that the police do not squander this opportunity of renewed focus on the case more than three years after it created headlines to fast track it and ensure that the chargesheet is filed as quickly as possible. Not only do the police have to do their job well, they also need to demonstrate that they are indeed doing their job well.