The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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When shove came to push
- Lodha firm takes charge of immobile cars from Birla Park

Calcutta, March 8: Next time an engine snag forces you to get off your car in an upscale stretch of the city and push it across to the nearest mechanic’s, don’t get too red in the face.

After all, even the Birlas’ cars aren’t above a good shove now and then.

The handful of pedestrians on Gurusaday Dutta Road this afternoon would have watched the sight with fascination: three men heaving one car after another across the driveway of Birla Park ' the business family’s residence ' and out onto the street through the big iron gate.

But much as the men huffed and puffed and kept pushing, none of the three machines would so much as emit a cough in apology, let alone purr into life.

The cars’ recalcitrance contrasted sharply with the gravity of the occasion: the R.S. Lodha-headed Birla Corporation, armed with a court order, was taking back what was the company’s from the Birla citadel.

The cars ' a Honda City, a Maruti Esteem and a Maruti 800 ' had been parked at 19C Gurusaday Dutta Road ever since Priyamvada Birla, the chairperson of Birla Corporation, died nearly two years ago and the company came under the control of Lodha and his two sons.

Since the cars had been given to her for official use, the company ' the subject of an ownership battle between the Birlas and Lodha ' wanted them back. Company staff said they went to Birla Park several times but came back empty-handed. “Our men went there at least 10 times,” a Lodha camp source said.

Two FIRs were lodged at the local police station, one last year and the second this year. A case was registered at the city civil court which, on March 6, ordered the cars taken out of 19C Gurusaday Dutta Road, an address belonging to Madho Properties, owned by K.K. Birla and B.K. Birla.

Priyamvada stayed at 17B Gurusaday Dutta Road, also located within the Birla Park compound.

It was around 3.40 pm when a blue Maruti Omni confidently announced itself at the Birla Park gate. It carried two lawyers, three chauffeurs and a Birla Corp employee.

The Lodha camp, anticipating trouble, had moved the Alipore police court yesterday asking for Section 144 to be clamped but had his plea turned down. There was no trouble, except' the cars wouldn’t start.

One by one they left the house with a mulish reluctance ' the Honda followed by the Esteem and finally the 800 ' each with three out-of-breath chauffeurs giving it their best shot under the late afternoon sun as amused security guards looked on.

The lawyers emerged a few minutes later, trouser crease and dignity unscathed.

Once out of the house, all three cars were left on the road till the mechanics arrived and got them back to roadworthy condition.

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