For the second time in the space of a year, Veena Desai missed out on her dream of setting up a hotel and of selling four pakodas for less than Rs 150 on a plot of land formerly owned by India’s most wanted man. On Wednesday afternoon, Desai was denied entry into Colaba’s Hotel Diplomat after she did not carry her certificate to participate in an auction of Dawood Ibrahim’s properties.
The auction was conducted by private auction house, Ashvin & Co at Hotel Diplomat on Wednesday afternoon which accepted bids in person at the hotel, through its website and through sealed envelopes.
“Only after coming here did I come to know who the owner the plot was. I am thankful that I didn’t enter the hotel. Who would have wanted to get into all that lafda (trouble)?” she said.
Desai, a middle aged central government employee from Surat, had first bid for a three guntha plot located in Kadya village in Nani Daman at an auction organised in Ahmedabad by the Income Tax Department eight months ago. Along with two other partners, Desai had lodged a bid of Rs. 40.26 lakh and won.
“But I got a call soon after from the income tax department and was informed that my bid had been canceled. They gave me no reason,” said Desai, frantically trying to contact officers at the Office of the Competent Authority, who she claims told her she would be allowed inside the auction hall without the auction certificate.
An auction house sentry posted at the front door refused to let Desai in, even as other bidders entered and exited hotel Diplomat, with police personnel flanking the locked doors. Desai and her son had left Surat in their car at 4.30 am on Wednesday and she that she arrived at the hotel without a bite to eat.
Before entering the Ahmedabad auction, Desai had inspected the Daman and was immediately taken up by location neighbouring two large hotels. “Hotel Mirasol and Hotel Miramar are both across the road from the plot. This plot in fact, is the only one which has an entrance directly from the main road and is filled with babool trees,” Desai said.
Having invested her savings into the bid, Desai said that she planned to set up another hotel. “The hotels nearby sell four pakodas for Rs. 150. I would have sold them for much less in a restaurant on the ground floor and rented out rooms on the floors above,” she admitted.
Her money was eventually completely refunded, but Desai was informed a few days ago by the income tax department that a second crack at the plot had come up. “I pray to Lord Hanuman each morning before leaving home and truly he has cleared the way for me today,” smiled Desai.
The coveted plot was won by Jaideep Dolsania after his bid of Rs. 2 lakh, which was also the reserve price fixed by the office of the competent authority, went unchallenged.