08/01/06

a vaartha.

he is a businessman with interests in textiles, cement, real estate and etc., his family is rich and owns a lot of property in and around hyderabad and gujarat, mostly acquired in the last three decades. he is also a rajya sabha mp from andhra pradesh.he manages his own group within the congress in the state. he also publishes a telugu newsdaily 'vaartha' from ten towns across the state. and a hindi newspaper called 'swatantra vaartha' from hyderabad and nizamabad.

so what made him think he had the right to demolish his government allotted bungalow in new delhi and construct a marble-and-carved teak eyesore in its place ? a two-storeyed concrete insult in an area where even the pm can't build beyond one floor?

girish kumar sanghi and his family have a reputation of being heavy-handed. they reportedly beat up even managers and editors who refuse to toe their line.and the power of a newspaper seals many lips. that's their way of getting business done. one year ago, a bus carrying workers from one of his factories was involved in an accident. the police arrived, and found out that the passengers were all poor schoolgirls who were returning from a night-shift at one of his factories. the opposition cried foul and then child labour. the labour minister said in the assembly : an inquiry had been initiated, but from the information he had, there was no evidence to support the charge that any child labour had been employed. so the television channels who had beamed the unhappy fact had performed the duplicitous act of conveying one thing to the people and another to the minister. we know that happens.

vaartha is the second most widely read telugu newspaper in a.p. that means, when push comes to shove, sanghi could be the second biggest arm-twister in the state. so i look around, and i urge you to do so too: and tell me how many sanghi parivars can you spot around the country. too many, in my opinion. so what, you ask, whatever news i consume in the morning, and sometimes in the afternoon and the evening turns into raddi by the next morning.

we know what micro-organisms that live for less than twelve hours are capable of doing.

and there is hardly anything we can do about it. like someone i know realized when he came up against sanghi. one of sanghi's companies was building a pricey apartment building in one of the poshest areas of hyderabad. there was only one small lane that connected it with the main road. my acquaintance owned a plot that lay between the proposed complex of buildings and an arterial lane, bigger and better, to the main road. the arterial road, if extended to sanghi's complex (slicing the vacant plot that lay in the middle), would definitely add to the saleability of the complex.this is what the sanghis wanted.one day, a crew of municipal workers began demolishing a part of the wall dividing the complex and the plot. the plotwallah accosted them and he was told they were only clearing the road (?) that led to the complex. so the owner, because he wasn't aware of any plans to build a road, panicked and ran to his lawyer. the family had owned the plot for more than forty years and it had collected its share of the dust of disputes over the years. but his rights were almost clear. and there never had been a road proposed through the middle of his plot. the sanghis, in their ingenuity, had thought up one and certain babus, with a little 'persuasion' had dutifully agreed. so the plotwallah deduced he had to take certain 'clever' measures to protect his property, because he could sense big shadows lurking around his plot, before any 'timely' relief arrived from the court.so he approached another minor congress leader to stop sanghi from pushing the authorities to build a second approach road to his complex 'partitioning' the plot he had foolishly saved for forty years. he had very little time - a dirt path had been cleared through his plot and the road could be laid any day- given the 'urgency of pupose' of the municipal authorities.

the minor leader liked the idea of fishing in troubled lands in such an expensive district..so he sent along a couple of 'party workers' to scare off any possible invaders by brandishing their credentials as 'ruling party yuva' leaders. the owner, still not reassured, thought up the idea of making his plot truly 'unpaveable'. so he got a young friend of the family to haul in several truckloads of boulders ( the remains of the huge rocks that dot hyderabad which are now being blasted and cleared by truckloads everyday to make way for new buildings, despite several conservationists' protests) and plonk them on his plot so that it couldn't be cleared. the deed was done, and without much cost, because the truckers who hauled the rocks were looking for empty plots to dump the rocks anyway.the rocks were big, and despite the fact that they were only pieces cut from bigger boulders some of them stood as high as a man. they can't be cleared in less than a week, he thought.

he woke up the next morning to discover that he made the vaartha that day. featured on top of the front page, just below the masthead, was the news that he had grabbed a 'sarkari' road with the help of congress party goons.. while he had been enjoying the sound sleep of a satisfied landgrabber, the presses and other gears of authority had been busy.

the news made only vaartha, and no other newspaper.

certain babus among the municipal authorities who had all along supported the sanghis' bluff now expressed righteous chagrin at their non-existent road being grabbed. and took' immediate measures' to reclaim their lost road. a spanking new road, after clearing the rocks with much motivation and machinery, made its way through the plot by, not the next week, but the next morning. increasing the value of the apartments in the proposed complex by several notches.

this happened nearly an year ago. now, to answer my own question, sanghi probanly thought (when he was applying his special building skills in lutyens' delhi) that when he could always have the right of way in hyderabad, why couldn't he enjoy the same privilege in dilli ?

he knows what to do if stopped...start another edition of 'swatantra vaartha' in delhi.

7 comments:

Pawan said...

How are your folks dealing with this? Did getting a stay order help? interested to know mainly because I have had to go through a similar case with my house in Hyd.
This one had a religious angle to it in addition to the arm twisting duly aided by local politicians.

Kamesh said...

A very sorry state of affairs. This is true for almost all the politicians and influential people (barring a few noble). They amass wealth, propertys through inconceivable and dubious means. Something really has to be done for people like these. This is when I get influenced by the communist ideology. God save India from Indians.

Kamesh

Mridula said...

Once our leadres are elected they act with such arrogence. And we do nothing.

By the way, my blog URL has changed.

http://www.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/index.html

kuffir said...

pawan : the government had been cleverly dragged into an issue in which it had no stake. and the pressure the sanghis exerted on the municipality and the higher-ups in the state congress was such that ther municipality moved with unexpected speed to clear the boulders and build the road literally overnight. now that it has become, in a way, 'social property' the dispute , i guess, would be very difficult to resolve. and as the governmenty has become an interested party it can go on forever.
as i said, the victim involved was not a relative but an acquaintance .
kamesh : if you think the communists are the way - think again..there can be no party more dictatorial and stubborn than the communists...
mridula : have updated the link. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Clearly our friend here has no idea about Sanghi's. Some of the things he says here are not juwst uttarly FALSE but not worth the HTML page over which it is written.
Did u know that Sanghis are probably the only company in the state that have with stood all governments. If there were so politically influenced, then one or the other govt whould have taken some grudge out on them bec as you rightly said, he is a congressman. So how can BJP supported Naidu not caused Damage to them? Just something to think about. Before you go out and tarnish anyone persosns reputation, i would siggest you just not quote newpapers but look at facts.

kiran kumar Chava said...

poor coward ananymous commenter

There are lot more things to write about them if you dare to do so.

How they cheated with Teak plant scheme.

How they cheated with kiosk scheme :(


etc..
etc..

Basically without ethicks, morals.

Every party is same when you come to Money/Paper/Power.

You can not expect much until something happens like in a movie...

kuffir said...

kiran,
as you said:'poor coward ananymous commenter'..
that's what i thought when i first read it. i do know the facts of the case well, because it happened to a friend. the point, as you rightly recognize it, is everyone who comes to within a certain reach of power in india seems to fall prey to its temptations very easily. newspapers hold a position of trust in the poor public's eyes ..but they seem to be no exception.

 
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