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Kapil shuns waiter-turned-tycoon’s car

Mumbai, June 14: The C-180 Mercedes Benz that Zahir Rana, now in a Gujarat jail, had gifted to Kapil Dev is being brought back to Ahmedabad from Delhi.

The former India cricket captain has reportedly told police they can do what they want with the car and that he does not even know if the car is in his name.

Thirty-two-year-old Rana, who until a few years ago was a waiter in Hotel Balbas, Ahmedabad, is the owner of 13 companies that had a combined turnover of about Rs 100 crore in 2002-2003. He had gifted the car to Kapil at a function in Centaur Hotel, Juhu, sometime in February.

Kapil had come for the inauguration of one of Rana’s companies, Recharge 4 Free.com. Yesterday, the police confiscated the Rs 24-lakh car from Delhi.

Gujarat police sources said Kapil has nothing much to do with the case but added that the car was “illegal”. Pramod Kumar, IG (CID-Crime), said the car was seized as it was bought with money that had been collected by Rana through fraudulent means.

The car is now a “case property”, and its registration and other papers will be submitted to the court on Monday, Kumar added.

Rana, who was arrested on May 26 in a fraud case relating to Recharge 4 Free.com, had also paid money and given gifts to other VIPs, including a host of film personalities, which the police are investigating.

“But if the film stars were paid to attend his shows or inaugurations, the money cannot be recovered as they were being paid for their services,” a senior official said.

Rana’s amazing rise brought him tremendous influence — and money. Recently, a leading English newspaper had carried an advertisement feature in the form of a booklet on “the rising son of Gujarat”.

In the booklet, Rana is seen rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. Besides the cricketing legend, he is shown socialising with people like Amitabh Bachchan, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, Sahara group head Subroto Roy and starlet Suman Ranganathan.

“It is just amazing, this Rana fellow just grew and grew,” a Gujarat-based industrialist said over phone from Ahmedabad. “He was just a young waiter till some years ago.”

But that was before the wheel turned full for the young waiter. The police, which began investigating Rana’s empire after a cheque of Rs 623, in the name of R. Pandya, bounced, will now have to take a peek into the workings of his 13 companies.

The first company of the Rana group was founded in 1995. Rana used to “circulate money”, along the lines of a chit fund, and called it “multilevel marketing”.

Each member had to pay Rs 1,000 for primary membership. The money would be refunded to him if he got three others to join the company.

Today, after just eight years, Rana owns Recharge 4 Free.com, a portal that is under investigation, Wardrobe 4 All, Remo Consumable Products Pvt. Ltd, Remo Computers Pvt. Ltd, Shiksha Jyoti, E-Max Network Pvt. Ltd, Lifecare Marketing Ltd, Remo Satellite Channels Pvt. Ltd, InternetMedia, Z R Infotech, All Time Entertainment and Water City. The last named is a water park on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

The former waiter has even sponsored road dividers in Ahmedabad. He is also believed to have committed to pay for the maintenance of a few city parks.

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