The below is an article by esteemed journalist Nauzer K. Bharucha on the happenings at HongKong House in Malcolm Baug, Jogeshwari, Mumbai.
WHEN PARSI FAMILIES ARE BULLIED BY THEIR OWN
IS THE N M WADIA CHARITIES A COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE?
Some wealthy, influential Parsis controlling Parsi charitable trust properties cannot be allowed to get away with their high-handed, whimsical behaviour. They need to be called out and exposed when they threaten, bully and coerce Parsi families living peacefully in community housing complexes. As many as 30 families residing in Hong Kong House at Malcolm Baug, Jogeshwari, many of them for over two decades, have been forced to sign patently one-side leave & license agreements by the trustees of N M Wadia Charities headed by former high court judge Shahrukh Kathawalla. Some of the traumatized families who met me recently say their rents (license fees) have increased by a shocking 5 to 9 times. Some of the residents are retired, some are on the verge of retirement, and others are single mothers and elderly widowed ladies. They have told me that the larger, insidious plan could be to force them to vacate their flats (for which they have paid 50% to 80% of the market value as deposits and donations when these flats were allotted to them years ago). It is learnt that some of the bungalow owners of Malcolm House too have been asked to shell out crores of rupees by the trust to renew their lease. If the long-term plan is to redevelop Malcolm Baug for commercial gains at the cost of its inhabitants, it will have to be opposed tooth and nail.
Interestingly, the trustees of N M Wadia Charities (Kathawalla, Hoshang Sinor, Farokh Subedar) themselves live in spacious apartments in south and central Mumbai. Good luck to them.
The plight of the Hong Kong House families should worry the entire community, especially those living in leave & licensed Parsi charity buildings. I urge people like Dinshaw Tamboly, Dinshaw Mehta, BPP trustees and other influential community members to meet the residents of Hong Kong House, listen to their plight and prevail upon the trustees of N M Wadia Charities to stop behaving in a high-handed manner.
In the coming weeks, this matter may be taken up at various government levels and even the prime minister’s office.
May better sense prevail.
ABODE OF THE PARSI TUGHLAQS
Like the 19th-century philanthropist, Bai Motlibai Wadia, the current trustees of N M Wadia Charities should be benevolent and magnanimous towards the beleaguered residents of Hong Kong House in Malcolm Baug, whose rents they have increased by 5 to 9 times.
For these trustees themselves have been blessed with good, comfortable accommodations in Mumbai.
Farokh Subedar, a former Tata director, is one of the trustees of N M Wadia Charities. He currently occupies a 3-BHK, over 1,000 sq ft Parsi Punchayat (BPP) apartment at Babulnath in south Mumbai and pays a monthly rent and other charges of just Rs 13,293. (Some Hong Kong House residents must now forcibly pay over Rs 30,000 a month).
Khusroo Panthaky, a prominent chartered accountant, is also a trustee of NM Wadia Charities. He currently occupies two BPP flats in Godrej Baug, south Mumbai. His monthly outgoings are Rs 2891 and Rs 3953 for the two flats. (A lone lady’s fee in Hong Kong House is now Rs 18,000 a month.)
Trustee Hoshang Sinor, an ex-banker, lives in a privately-owned building in Dadar Parsi colony and occupies a comfortable ground-floor flat.
Shahrukh Kathawalla, who became chairman of the N M Wadia Charities soon after he retired as a high court judge, has moved into a new apartment at Nepean Sea Road. Interestingly, the Kathawalla family also occupies a flat in Malcolm Baug, which has been kept locked for several years. Building No 4, Flat No 2.
Nauzer K Bharucha