Alleging that a builder has cheated him of Rs 2 crore in a land deal, a lab technician is hoping cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, who is the brand ambassador for the developer, will help him get justice
In God Sachin Tendulkar we trust. After running from pillar to post, seeking justice in a land grab case, a 33-year-old Pune resident has now pinned his hopes on the legendary former cricketer. He has decided to stage an indefinite hunger stir outside Tendulkar's residence on Perry Cross Road in Bandra West on May 18 to draw attention to his plight.
Tendulkar was the former brand ambassador of Amit Enterprises, which allegedly bought the land for a pittance. Sandeep Kurhade, a laboratory technician, has alleged that renowned real estate firm Amit Enterprises, run by the Pate family, with the connivance of his uncle, Shivaji Pinjan, paid him just Rs 20 lakh four years ago for an ancestral land in Ambegaon, Budruk, Pune, which is reportedly worth Rs 2 crore. Pinjan was allegedly given R1.50 crore by Pate for his share in the property.
In a letter sent recently to the additional commissioner of police (western region) and the Bandra police station, Kurhade said he and his family plan to go an indefinite May 18 outside Tendulkar's residence and requested police protection for it. He said he hoped that the Master Blaster would be moved by his plight and take up his case with Amit Enterprises.
In 2010, Tendulkar had signed a deal for being the brand ambassador of Amit Enterprises for R9 crore, which included two villas worth R2.5 crore each in the realtor's upscale housing project.
"We have heard a lot about Sachin. Apart from being a legendary cricketer and a Member of Parliament, he is a very humble and helping person; one who joins the fight against corruption. We are staging a hunger strike outside his home with prayers for help to get justice from the builder," read the letter. Pointing out that Tendulkar has "a moral responsibility towards the people", Kurhade said, "Irrespective of whether he helps us or not, I will be his fan forever."
'Trying to extort us'
Rohan Pate of Amit Enterprises trashed the land grab allegation. "Ranjana (Kurhade's mother) had transferred all her rights to the land to her brother, Shivaji Pinjan, by signing a registered released deed in the presence of her husband. When Shivaji produced this deed to us, we took extra precautions and got a certified copy of the same from the registration department. And then we bought the said land from Shivaji for Rs 1.50 crore. On Shivaji's request, we paid Rs 20 lakh to Ranjana," said Amit Duvekar, legal consultant of Amit Enterprises.
Plans to go on hunger strike outside Tendulkar's bungalow at Perry Cross Road in Bandra on May 18. File pic
Rohan alleged that the family is trying extort money from the firm. "Why did they not raise this issue four years ago when Rs 20 lakh was paid to them? The dispute is of a civil nature, but they are not approaching the civil court as they know that their allegations are completely false."
In 2010, Tendulkar had signed a deal on being the brand ambassador of Amit Enterprises for Rs 9 crore, which included two villas worth Rs 2.5 crore each
He also said that Tendulkar is no longer associated with the firm. "He was our brand ambassador from 2010-2014. By dragging Sachin's name into this, the Kurhade family is merely resorting to publicity stunts to pressure us."
Dhoni buckled under pressure
Brand ambassadors have faced flak in the past. Cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni on April 15 resigned as the brand ambassador of realty firm Amrapali, days after a social media campaign by unhappy residents of the company's Saphhire project in Noida went viral. The residents had tagged Dhoni in their tweets, asking him to either disassociate himself from the builder or force it to ensure completion of pending work. Dhoni had been the brand ambassador of the company for six years.
Celebs accountable: Parl panel
A parliamentary panel had on April 26 said that brand ambassadors should be held accountable if the advertisement they are appearing in makes misleading claims. The panel on food, consumer affairs and public distribution suggested strict action against celebrities if the brand they are endorsing is faulty. While tabling a report on the Consumer Protection Bill, 2015, in Parliament, the panel recommended a fine of up to R50 lakh or a jail term of up to five years.
In a statement to Pune police earlier this year, Kurhade stated his maternal grandmother, Sonabai alias Anjanabai Narayan Pinjan, owned 14.125 guntas of ancestral land in Ambegaon. After her death in June 1999, the land's ownership was transferred to his mother, Ranjana, and his uncle, Shivaji Pinjan.
"Shivaji Pinjan breached our trust and fraudulently got a document signed from my mother, stating that she no longer had the right to the land and sold the land to the partner of M/s Amit Enterprises, Sanjeev Govind Pate, for R1.50 crore," said Kurhade. He added that his mother was paid a paltry Rs 20 lakh under the pretext that more money would be given to her later. "No additional money has been paid to us to date."
He said the Bharatiya Vidyapeeth and Kharak police stations have refused to file an FIR and have tried to talk him out of locking horns with the allegedly influential builder.
Balasaheb Surve, senior inspector of Bharatiya Vidyapeeth police station, said, "We have verified the allegations made in the application of Sandeep Kurhade under the guidance of seniors and found that there was nothing to base a criminal case on as the dispute is of a civil nature."