Dawood Ibrahim property auction: Former winning bidder speaks on accusations of being a sham
As Dawood Ibrahim's property in Bhindi Bazar comes up for re-auction on November 14, former winning bidder, who could not pay, speaks on accusations of being a sham and publicity hound
Two years after a high-voltage auction of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's property Hotel Raunaq Afroz on Pakmodia Street in Bhendi Bazar, it is going in a for a re-auction. The government had attached Hotel Raunaq Afroz after the 1993 serial blasts.
S Balakrishnan at Hotel Diplomat, Colaba, on December 9, 2015
A recent public notice in newspapers cites that Raunaq Afroz is up for auction after the previous winning bidder, S Balakrishnan, could not cough up R4.28 crore he'd won the property for. The former journalist and advocate's NGO, Desh Seva Samiti, also lost the Rs 30 lakh it had given as deposit for the auction.
Hindu Mahasabha's Swami Acharya Chakrapani had made an appearance at the auction two years ago, giving a saffron twist to the event and sending the media into a tizzy
Balakrishnan was given a month, after he won the bid, to raise the money, but he could not do so and had to forfeit the property and his deposit.
During the auction on December 9, 2015, a phalanx of media photographers had waited outside, wilting in the heat, as Bala vs the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) were locked in a bidding battle inside the hotel. The Trust is redeveloping Bhendi Bazar and was keen to bag the property, as it is located at a crucial junction.
A spokesperson from the Trust refused to comment on whether they are going to participate in the auction again. The public re-auction of the property will take place on November 14 from 10 am. There are three methods of sale - the sealed tender, public auction and e-auction on the same day - and the venue for the same is the second floor of the Indian Merchants Chamber building in Churchgate.
Balakrishnan spoke to mid-day on the new development. Edited excerpts:
Let's rewind to the 2015 auction...
I bid for the property by first paying a deposit of R30 lakh and won it for R4.28 crore.
Why did you bid for Raunaq Afroz property?
I bid because a person sitting in Pakistan was dictating terms. It was for the prestige of the nation and to tell them in Pakistan to get lost, as the government refused to say it.
Was it a gesture of defiance?
No, not defiance, but it was an assertion of the self-esteem of our nation. I got threats on SMS even before bidding to stay away from the property. I had reported those threats to the police.
How much did you think you would have to bid for the property?
I thought that having paid Rs 30 lakh as deposit, I would get the property for Rs 1 crore. The price went higher because I was bidding against the SBUT.
People bid only when they know they have the money to do so...
That was an extraordinary auction and the atmosphere was vitiated by threats. I thought I could raise the money. I was given one month but, in reality, I got only three weeks as Christmas holidays ate into the time. I wanted an extension of a month, but it was not given. The aim was to make a computer centre on the property, so that computer education could benefit the area's children.
What do you want to do now?
I have written to the Prime Minister that the property should not be re-auctioned but converted to a police chowky to show people that we are not scared.
You have lost credibility, as a non-paying bidder, and there are accusations that you are a sham and publicity hound...
A person who risks one's life is a sham? I don't need publicity; I have been a journalist and have had plenty of publicity. We can't be afraid and the government needs to be able to tell those who threaten us to go and take a walk. The entire establishment is afraid and we have no guts, this re-auction is a charade.
Dawood Ibrahim's properties auctioned in Mumbai