SINCE the last four years, Pune-based RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar has been running an open air ‘RTI katta’ every Sunday at the Chittaranjan Vatika, where discussions about the RTI Act are held. Some approach the Katta with queries pertaining to RTI, others come here to seek resolution of the various problems they face.
In May, during one such katta session, a few people had voiced their concerns about the default in payments made by their fixed deposit companies. “Most were long-time depositors with the fixed deposit companies run by Pune-based realtor D S Kulkarni… based on their inputs, I started to gather information, which slowly brought to light the various irregularities of the company,” claimed Kumbhar.
Recently, authorities in Pune have started to take a closer look at the financial empire of D S Kulkarni, popularly known as DSK, after he was booked on charges of cheating investors. Kumbhar’s search for information made him comb through the websites of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the Inspector General of Stamp Duty and Registration, and the Reserve Bank of India.
Based on information he gathered from these places, Kumbhar said he decided to take to his blog to discuss the “various issues plaguing the group”. In his first blog post, published on August 3 this year, Kumbhar claimed that the fixed deposit companies run by DSK did not have proper authorisation from the RBI. The blog also spoke about the alleged creation of shell companies and other “irregularities” of the group.
This blog post was followed by another one on August 9, which mentioned alleged dubious land deals and “financial deals completed through circuitous routes”.
Till date, Kumbhar has dedicated seven blog posts to DSK and the issues the company is facing. “As the blogs become popular, help started coming in from various sources. Financial experts helped with the details and some former employees also chipped in,” he said. By then, investors with the DSK Group were gearing up to lodge police complaints, and numerous meetings were held between the police and them. “This is a good example of how local residents and police can collaborate to address financial frauds,” he said.
Before the cases against him, Kulkarni had enjoyed the trust and affection of lakhs of people. Kulkarni was also an occasional motivational speaker who spoke openly about his humble beginnings. He had even contested the Lok Sabha election, albeit unsuccessfully. Kulkarni was perceived as a successful realtor who had managed to make a mark for himself in the city.
This is the second time Kumbhar’s katta has played a role in a case dealing with financial irregularities. Earlier this year, investors of the TempleRose Fund had approached the katta, and this had led to the confiscation of about 1,200 acres of land of the fund and arrest of the company’s directors for alleged fraud.
Kulkarni has been arguing that demonetisation, recession in the real estate sector and a road accident he was in had affected his business. But an investor said the firm’s luxurious apartment project in Loni Kalbhor, which ran aground, escalated its problems.