‘Unwelcome visitor’ mars BPP press meet

High drama ensued yesterday at Churchgate Garware Club’s fifth floor party room during a Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP) press conference. BPP chairman Yezdi Desai and others trustees had organised the meet to expose financial impropriety by former chairman Dinshaw Mehta.

Article By Hemal Ashar | Mid-Day

Trustees claimed, Dinshaw had taken ’25 lakh in cash from one Musharraf Y Kader for giving tenancy rights to an office at Dadi House in Fort, in 2013. Apparently, the deal was fixed at ’45 lakh, but only a Rs 20 lakh cheque made it to BPP (see box). Trustees are now pressing for Dinshaw’s conviction.

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Ugly spat

Matters turned ugly at the press meet when Dinshaw’s son and current BPP trustee Viraf entered the room and took a seat. One of the panelists, Kersi Randheria said, “It is my conference. It is a meet by invite” Viraf shot back saying, “Says who? The board outside says this is a BPP meet.”

Although Randheria kept saying Viraf was “uninvited” and “unwelcome”, Viraf stood his ground and refused to leave, saying, “The board outside says this is a BPP meet.” Another trustee Noshir Dadrawala, tried to intervene, telling Viraf, “Don’t do things as per your convenience”, but to no avail.

Drama continued as the panelists kept taking digs at Viraf, while audio-video clips of the Mehtas (Dinshaw and his sons Hormuz and Viraf) talking to Musharraf were played. As the clip played on, Randheria sarcastically said, “There is our Viraf, always handsome.” And to this jibe, Viraf snorted and said in a low voice, “If you say so.”

Dramatic entry

In a rather dramatic entry, Musharraf walked in after some time. He admitted to having given Rs 25 lakh to Dinshaw, but added, “Even our community has Trusts. We take cheques and cash, but every transaction is accounted for.”

Desai ended the conference saying, “Dinshaw’s was the modus operandi of a person who makes money for himself” and ended saying, “we are going to push for a conviction.” But before the before they broke for a late lunch, Viraf said he had a lot of questions and points to raise, but he would do so in court.

The back story

In 2013, the tenancy of an office at Dadi House belonging to BPP was to be transferred to another tenant for Rs 45 lakh. But the deal did not materialise as the Trust hadn’t received the entire amount — it only got Rs 20 lakh. Trustees confronted then chairman Dinshaw Mehta, who admitted taking Rs 25 lakh in cash from the deal. Consequently, he agreed to resign in 2013 and transferred Rs 25 lakh to BPP so there would be no case against him. But BPP is pressing for his conviction. The next hearing is on August 2.