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Dispute over,but work on Chabad House drags on

A year since slain Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg’s father accused the orthodox Jewish movement Chabad of pocketing money raised for the reconstruction of Nariman House,one of the sites of the 26/11 attack,the property dispute may have found a resolution but repair work has not progressed at the Colaba building.

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai |
November 23, 2011 3:25:34 am

A year since slain Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg’s father accused the orthodox Jewish movement Chabad of pocketing money raised for the reconstruction of Nariman House,one of the sites of the 26/11 attack,the property dispute may have found a resolution but repair work has not progressed at the Colaba building.

Less than a week before the third anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks,the five-storey building remains under a green construction shroud with wheelbarrows,bamboo poles and cement bags stacked in the compound. Apart from a clothesline with a few items of clothing in the first floor hall,there is nothing to indicate that work on reconstruction is about to continue. The building has neither electricity nor water supply,disconnected during the bitter dispute and attachment of the property by the court receiver late in 2010.

A spokesperson for Chabad Lubavitch confirmed that the dispute between the organisation and Gavriel’s parents was resolved earlier this year,but did not revert with details regarding progress of repairs to the building,which was little more than a concrete skeleton after the three-day siege and gunbattle in 2008. Sources said there was some confusion about the permissions needed for the renovation,leading to the work being stuck.

They said the plan was to turn the building into a memorial or museum along with a kosher kitchen catering to food requests from the Jewish community across the city. The new Chabad Rabbi and his wife continue to operate from an undisclosed location in south Mumbai and will not move back into the reconstructed Nariman House,the source added.

The property dispute had arisen last November when the Holtzbergs,restrained from conducting repairs to the building themselves,accused the movement of fraud and pocketing millions raised in donations towards rebuilding the destroyed building. The BMC,meanwhile,issued a stop-work notice until the issue of who is authorised to seek and receive repair permissions on behalf of the trust was sorted out.

This May,Gavriel Holtzberg’s brother Moshe released a statement announcing an amicable resolution between the Chabad-Lubavitch movement and his family.

The Holtzbergs had withdrawn all claims from the Charity Commissioner’s office and formally recognised the Chabad-Lubavitch movement as the proper and rightful trustees of the building,the statement had said,adding that the dispute and accusations had sprung from the fact that the rebuilding was taking much longer than expected.

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