The Telegraph
Saturday , January 18 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Rs 600-crore reward for 40 years of loyalty
- Gujarat landlord leaves wealth to attendant, cops foil his nephews’ efforts to snatch property

(Top) Gajrajsinh Jadeja and Vinubhai

Ahmedabad, Jan. 17: Lakshmi Mittal’s daughter Vanisha got married in 2004 in one of the most expensive Indian bashes ever. Now Vinubhai, a Gujarat landlord’s attendant, can spend twice as much on his daughter’s wedding and have something to spare.

The 63-year-old has been handed a Rs 600-crore fortune by Gajrajsinh Jadeja, whom he served tirelessly for nearly four decades until his death last September at his home near Rajkot.

Jadeja, a bachelor, had gifted away his entire wealth in a will drawn up 10 years ago but never told Vinubhai about it, a close friend and lawyers said.

But some of Jadeja’s nephews found out and did all they could to stop the manna from slipping away from their grasp: they allegedly kidnapped Vinubhai in an attempt to get him to sign away the property but the police rescued him and arrested the eight abductors within days.

But ask Vinubhai about the wealth and he says he never “expected anything from Gajrajsinhji”. “He was like a father to me. He gave me shelter and gave the best education to my children,” he said.

Jadeja, who first met Vinubhai in his early 20s in the 1970s, had arranged for the marriage of his attendant and met all expenses. Later, Jadeja sent Vinubhai’s two children, a daughter and a son, to a convent school and then to the UK where they are pursuing higher studies at present.

But with the Rs 600-crore kitty in hand, more than studies can be expected, maybe even a wedding for the daughter to rival Vanisha’s Rs 240-crore jamboree.

Vinubhai with his wife. Pictures by Parish Joshi

Jadeja’s long-time friend and Gujarat Congress leader Hemang Vasavda echoes what Vinubhai himself said about the landlord. “Jadeja had virtually adopted Vinubhai as his son and always treated him as his family member,” said Vasavda, the Congress’s Rajkot chief.

Vasavda said he never saw Jadeja’s nephews with him. “It was always Vinubhai who looked after him, even though his nephews lived nearby.”

But while he treated Vinubhai like family, Jadeja did not go the whole hog and formally adopt him, apparently to avoid a backlash from his Kshatriya community, Vasavda said. Vinubhai was from a different caste.

But Jadeja seemed to have made up his mind long back on his wealth — over 240 bighas of farmland, five houses in Rajkot, cash and fixed deposits.

Jadeja made the will around 10 years ago gifting it all to Vinubhai, said Vasavda, who was known to the landlord since the leader’s early days as a farm co-operative figure in Rajkot.

Jadeja, himself was a prominent Kshatriya leader, lived in Khambha village, around 20km from Rajkot town. He was in his 80s when he died last year.

Vasavda recalled that in the 1970s, Jadeja was fond of throwing parties. He used to invite guests at one of his Rajkot homes he often visited. At the time, a young Vinubhai, then known as Kanak alias Vinu, used to arrange snacks and drinks for Jadeja.

The bond deepened in 1976 when Jadeja learnt that Vinubhai, down with tuberculosis, did not have money for treatment. He took him to his village and offered him shelter and job. Soon, he became an indispensable part of his life.

After Jadeja suffered a massive attack of paralysis in 1993, Vinubhai was at his bedside, Vasavda said. It was the same when Jadeja met with an accident later. According to the Congress leader, Jadeja’s relatives were nowhere to be seen during the troubles.

Jadeja had reinvested earnings from his farms and bought the properties in Rajkot but had not been known for charity or philanthropy.

“He was a foodie and loved to feed people. Anyone visiting him in his village, Khambha, could not leave without having food with Jadeja,” Vasavda said.