Cable TV

"THE HINDUJAS TRIED TO THROTTLE AND KILL US FINANCIALLY"

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"Booz Allen had valued the MSO Indusind Media and Communications at Rs 15,000 million. We had a very clear-cut understanding with the Hindujas that at an initial investment of Rs 400 million, every rupee that the business appreciates, on the difference between the investment and appreciation, we will get 10 percent.

This is on paper. On the death of Raam Punjabi, based on the Booz Allen valuation, Rs 1,500 million was due to us. An equal share for the four of us was working out to Rs 400 million for Ram. Plus the 20 percent equity in Cable Video Opera (CVO), and the equity in IndusInd Media was 6 percent. The shares of all of these were asked for and were to be paid to the family of Ram Punjabi.

The Hindujas refused shamelessly. They went back on their word and dilly- dallied on the final agreement, putting new terms before us which were intolerable. We felt that if the Hindujas were not open to parting with a stake for a dead man, what are they going to give me when I am alive today?

What happens to me tomorrow if I am dead?

These were our concerns when we decided to quit.

At that time we did not have in our mind to get back, consolidate, create a parallel network. We were content with the music channel that we had started with great difficulty, with our own funding.

The moment we left, the Hindujas launched three or four false cases against us to malign us in the media and the business community. The idea was to throttle and kill us financially. Luckily God was on our side. We had goodwill from 15 years of hard work we had put in. We had a lot of people who came to help us, including people who the Hindujas had crossed on the wrong side. We flocked together and created this structure. We put up the channel, and it started doing extremely well. And then we started Wincable with Rajen Raheja, who had again, crossed paths with the Hindujas on various accounts.

They launched a complaint against us with the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai police, which accused us of fraudulently taking away some cable subscriber connections which actually were theirs. Stupid things like that. They said that my partner Jagjit Singh Kohli connived and issued cheques worth Rs 1.4 million. When the police investigated, they found that Jagjit Singh did not have signing powers of more than Rs 100,000.

The Hindujas put a lot of pressure on the police for a thorough investigation. The police have dismissed the case after a thorough investigation. They dismissed that there was a criminal conspiracy, and said that whatever dispute there is could be settled in a civil court when the time comes.

That was the first victory that we really had.

When we got this in our hand, we launched a case against them at the Thane court. This court has issued a process against all the Hindujas, Ram Hingorani, AK Das, and Hima Mehta, the communications head then.

Plus we have a civil suit in the Bombay High court suing them for Rs 10,120 million, which is pending hearing right now. The figure is based on the valuation that they have, the appreciation in CVO and IndusInd Media and Communications, besides damages for our mental torture and agony.

We have an extremely strong ground. We are not doing this to harass anybody. The fact is that we are fighting for our rights. We are trying to make a point. If in India, big industrialists start using entrepreneurs like us to help them build their business empire, and throw them away like a piece of toilet paper, I don't think anybody should tolerate it in today's world.

There are courts. Courts are fair. They may take a long time. I don't think they will take sides at this moment. And if you have a very strong case, they are definitely there to take cognisance of the breach of faith."

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