Calcutta, Nov. 12: A tale of a partnership gone sour and associates turning into antagonists has emerged from the prime property where two bouncers were gunned down yesterday.
Police are probing an unverified claim by an arrested lawyer that two officials associated with a company that bought the property had hired the bouncers to evict the occupants. The occupants included Ratan Lal Nahata and Mamta Agarwal who has been arrested on a murder charge.
But a director of the company, Heartline Estate, told The Telegraph that he and Nahata were partners from 1984 to early 2000. In 1999, 9A, the property on Short Street in the heart of Calcutta, was sold to Heartline purportedly on behalf of the owner, Sailabala Sein.
Dilip Das, the 71-year-old director of Heartline, recounted at his house in Behala how the friendship was forged after he badly wanted to acquire the property. The version of Das could not be corroborated with Nahata who was inaccessible through the day.
Das was an employee at a reputable tea firm but his main job, he said, was striking real estate deals.
“I spent a few days at 9A Short Street when my colleague Fernandes, who lived there, went home for a holiday in 1984. He gave me the keys and asked me to look after the place where he lived on rent. But I instantly liked it and made up my mind to own it,” said Das.
“At that time (1984), seven other families were living on the premises. The city was tense because of the riots in Delhi (after Indira Gandhi’s assassination) and several families had taken refuge there. I wanted to own the entire plot but I did not have strong connections in that part of the city. Then I met Nahata at a friend’s place where he said he could get me the place,” said Das.
With Nahata’s help, according to Das, he managed a room on the premises. This evening, he recalled that he had lived in the same room where the two bouncers were found dead on Monday.
Nahata, too, got himself a room at 9A. “We managed to persuade all the other occupants except Dr Mor, who still has a chamber on the compound, to leave,” Das said.
“Around this time, Nahata struck a deal with the then owner, Sailabala Sein, and asked me to pay Rs 10 lakh for the property. I immediately paid the money. Nahata asked me to move out of the plot and promised to hand over the property to me in a few days. But for the next five years, he could not give me the papers,” Das said.
In 1989, Das said, Nahata advised him to form a company, saying that it would be easier to strike the deal with a company than an individual. Das claimed that Nahata then introduced him to another man, whom Das would not name, and made them form a company.
That was the birth of Heartline Estate Pvt Ltd, registered in Dadar, Mumbai. It is the same company whose name has now emerged in the police investigations.
Partha Chatterjee, the lawyer who had accompanied the bouncers, has named two persons who had allegedly engaged him and the security agency to “take possession” of the plot, police sources said.
One of them is an official of Heartline Estate and the other a former director who lives in Howrah, sources said.
Das said this evening: “Since 2010, I took no interest in the property. Neither I nor my company had contacted the security agency to barge into the property. Why would I when the property no longer belongs to me?” he asked.
“The company was not meant for any real business but was primarily formed to acquire the property,” Das added.
In the 1990s, Das said, Nahata lived on the premises. But Das did not get the plot he had coveted.
“In 1999, Nahata told me a deal had been struck and that a lawyer, Shibaji Banerjee, had the power of attorney for Sailabala Sein (the widow who owned 9A) and that he had managed to buy the property on behalf of Heartline. The property was registered in Mumbai,” Das said.
However, Nahata held the papers and said that he would need some more days to settle some disputes over the property, Das said. “I trusted him as a friend. We still used to drink together at 9A but he never allowed me to permanently settle inside. In between, I had helped him acquire a flat and land at New Alipore and Armenian Street but he never gave me my share,” said Das.
After Das retired from the tea firm in 2000, he expressed his desire to permanently settle at 9A with his family but Nahata allegedly did not allow him and this is when their relationship started souring. Das said his only son stays in London and works for a multinational.
“For the next 10 years, there have been several complaints and counter-complaints by me and Nahata at Shakespeare Sarani police station,” said Das.
In 2009, Das met Rajesh Damani, a land broker, who advised Das to sell off the property and they obtained certified copies of the property documents from the Mumbai municipal corporation.
Damani joined Heartline as a director and arranged a meeting between Das and Sanjay Sureka.
“Months before the deal was struck, two more directors were inducted. The deal was struck in 2010. Sureka had paid us Rs 3 crore and agreed to buy the property along with the occupiers — Nahata and the kindergarten school,” said Das.
Sureka was not available for comment on Tuesday.
Das said that Sureka then got in touch with Parag Majmudar. “Nahata was paid Rs 75 lakh to move away from the property. He took the money but never moved,” said Das.
Majmudar said today: “My brief association with this plot was as a mediator helping Heartline Estate find a buyer in 2011. Sanjay Sureka purchased the property from Heartline. As a mediator, I put the two in touchÖ. Nahata has already taken Rs 75 lakh from Heartline to vacate the plot. The deal was for Rs 3 crore, so he is yet to receive the full paymentÖ Nahata is not moving out and the company is not paying the rest amount. It’s a cat-and-mouse game. I know nothing about the property after that.”
Ratan Lal Nahata
A tenant of 9A whose name is being cited by almost everyone associated with the property. He had claimed to have bought the property, approached court when CMC rejected his
application for mutation but did not get relief. Nahata also mentored Mamta Agarwal, the principal accused of opening fire on Monday
Chairman and managing director of a construction firm, Majmudar says he gave up in favour of Sanjay Sureka, the CMD of
Concast, the right to buy the property from Heartline Estate, which claims to be a Mumbai-based company. An office of Heartline in Calcutta is located in the same building as that of Ritman, Majmudar’s company
A director of Heartline. Das says he has known Nahata since 1984. Das says when he took a fancy to the property, Nahata had promised to help him acquire it.
Nahata could not be contacted for comment.
When the dispute had reached the court, Dwaraka Nath Sein, the father of Rumi and Rakhi who filed a plea backing Nahata, was asked how he got Rs 9.5 lakh from Heartline, which the company had said was the price for the property. Dwaraka Nath said he received the money for sale of ornaments to Dilip Das but received the cheque from Heartline, according to court documents
The property is registered and mutated in the name of the Surekas, whose company Concast’s name features on Calcutta police’s
guard rails and median
dividers. But the final title does not appear to have been conclusively settled. Sanjay Sureka had told
The Telegraph on Monday that he had paid Majmudar Rs 9 crore of the price of
Rs 21 crore. The rest was to be paid after possession or the initial tranche had to
be repaid. Majmudar on Tuesday said: “There are documents to show that he has paid me the full amount.”