Cops reach residence, office of Maple Shelters owners, but builders stay out of sight
PUNE: Owners of Maple Shelters, Sachin Agarwal and Navin Agarwal, did not appear before the Pune police on Thursday despite being issued a notice in a cheating case registered against them.
Deputy commissioner of police (cyber, economics) Deepak Sakore, said, “Our team visited their residence and office on Thursday, but they were not available for questioning,” he said.
Though both suspects have been booked, they have not approached the court seeking interim bail to avert arrest. “The suspects are not cooperating in the investigations,” Sakore said.
Police have told the bank to freeze the account mentioned by the developers in their misleading advertisement for low-cost housing, Sakore said.
The account has Rs 6 lakh. The money has been deposited by prospective buyers but nothing has been withdrawn. Another account of the builder has Rs 2 crore, he said.
Sakore said that in the last two days, police have registered statements of 40 people who suspect that Maple Shelters had cheated them. “We have also received many calls from desperate customers,” he added.
So far, it has been revealed that about 15,000 prospective home buyers had filled online forms of the housing scheme floated by Maple Shelters while over 15,000 have filled the hard copy, of the forms, Sakore said.
A police team on Thursday conducted a search of their office in Shivajinagar and a wedding hall taken on rent to distribute and accept the hard copies of the forms, Sakore said.
Sakore said details of the project have been sought from Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) about any schemes for the urban poor and the basis for the misleading advertisement, he said.
Sakore said they have also accepted a complaint application from a person who had booked an apartment in one of the schemes of Maple Builders in which he was promised apartments at Rs 10 lakh.
On Tuesday, Shivajinagar police had booked Sachin Agarwal and Navin Agarwal of Maple Shelters for allegedly publishing a misleading advertisement, inviting applications from prospective buyers for an ultra-low cost housing scheme. The advertisement carried photographs of Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and district guardian minister Girish Bapat. Police suspect that the builder projected his scheme as the government’s initiative to gain people’s confidence.
City-based Maple Group, under attack for misleading advertisements, said it has refunded the controversial “document verification” fees to 3,500 applicants but said that 500 other applicants have decided to repose their faith in the group.
A prospective buyer Balasaheb Shinde told ToI, “The company has given back my money. I took it in the afternoon on Thursday. I have no complaints now.”
Maple Group also said that it has initiated wire transfer for 10,000 applicants, who paid the money online. “The refunds for these applicants will be credited to their account within 12 working days as per the payment gateway process,” the company said in a statement.
The company admitted to its error in interpreting the provisions of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and apologised for the inconvenience caused to all stake-holders. The group, however, said it will deliver all the projects at the cost mentioned in the advertisement.
“While admitting to its error of interpretation of the provisions of the government’s Prime Minister Awaas Yojana (PMAY), the Maple Group remains passionate about providing affordable housing for the EWS and LIG customers, which is need of the hour and aligned to vision of the Central and State Governments to provide Housing for All. Maple Group remains committed to developing affordable housing projects. The group has assured customers that it will complete and deliver the projects that it has mentioned in the advertisement as it has done in the past,” the group said in a statement.