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80-yr-old Mumbai freedom fighter fights his 2nd war of independence

Allegedly cheated of nearly Rs 7L meant for him and his wife’s knee replacement surgeries by a Dadar broking firm, freedom fighter is struggling to retain his independence and not ask for money

As the nation celebrates its 67th Independence Day today, the one thing that may cause grief to its citizens is the way it has treated those who fought for its freedom.

Chandravadan Bhatt with his wife Malati. Pic/Shadab Khan
Chandravadan Bhatt with his wife Malati. Pic/Shadab Khan

One such freedom fighter is Chandravadan Bhatt, who had taken up the cause of India’s independence at the tender age of nine. Now 80, Bhatt claims he was cheated of his life savings money he had saved up for his and his wife’s knee-replacement surgery by a Dadar-based broking firm.

In the mid-forties, Bhatt, a resident of Portuguese Church lane in Dadar, actively participated in the fight for freedom with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind Fauj (AHF) in the company of his father Jaishankar Bhatt, who worked in the Western Railway.

“My father had bought a small printing machine on which he and some of his acquaintances used to print pamphlets. I was given the task of smuggling those pamphlets to other workers of the AHF,” said Bhatt. “The fight for Swaraj was in my blood since I was nine years old. I still remember the days when we used to march wearing Netaji’s cap and holding the national flag aloft.

One day, Netaji had come to our locality and I went running to him. Noticing my enthusiasm, he patted me on my back and said kuch karo, asking me and the crowd to stand up for the country. Those words still echo in my ears,” he added. Today, however, Bhatt is locked in a struggle with Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers to recover a portion of his life’s savings.

Bhatt, who worked as a Chartered Engineer in Crompton Greaves Ltd till 1993, had saved Rs 12 lakh and invested it through Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers, located opposite Portuguese Church in Dadar. “I was very dependent on this amount since I had saved it to ensure me and my wife, Malati (78), could undergo knee surgeries,” he said.

'Cheated'
The octogenarian alleged that in April 2013, before leaving for Ahmedabad for a medical check-up, he signed some papers at the broking firm. He claims he had never given the firm consent to trade on his behalf in the Future and Options segment, which is considered risky, but the company had allegedly forged some documents to prove that he had done so.

“When I came to know about the transactions in this segment, I left all my tests incomplete and rushed to Mumbai. I realised I had incurred a loss of R6.87 lakh through these transactions, but no idea how to deal with this cheating. I found a lawyer and approached SEBI with the complaint in june 2013,” Bhatt said. SEBI, in turn, approached the National Stock Exchange and an arbitrator was finally appointed in August 2013, before which the case is pending.

“It is my hard earned money. I was depending on the amount to get the knee-replacement done. My children could support me, but that would mean giving up my independence, which I have cherished all these years.
When contacted Avinash Singh, manager of Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers, said, “I don’t have to say anything as the matter is pending for arbitration.”

Police case
Bhatt has also lodged a complaint forgery and breach of trustwith the Dadar police of . Sub-inspector Ganesh Aandhe of Dadar police station said, “I had called the officials of the firm and they had submitted evidence. Since the matter is before the arbitrator, it would be too early to come to a conclusion.”

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