Mumbai: A city Congress legislator is under police investigation for allegedly pressuring members of a charitable trust to meet the aides of the fugitive gangster, Dawood Ibrahim, and Chhota Shakeel, to hand over Hotel Marine Plaza on Marine Drive for a pittance.
The Rs 500-crore hotel is owned by the Habib Trust. The managing company, Shorelines Hotel Pvt Ltd, allegedly threatened the trustees to surrender the property for a meagre sum. The trustees complained to the Mumbai police about the threats from the underworld and the pressure from a city MLA, to settle the matter in favour of Shoreline. Since there was no response from the police, the trustees moved the Bombay high court. They have also submitted five audio clips to substantiate their allegations.
Maredia & Bharwani Refused To Vacate Hotel
In 1992, the trustees had entered a 30-year agreement with Shoreline for managing the hotel, which was earlier known as Hotel Bombay International. Even though the agreement lapsed in February 2022, Shoreline and its directors, Rahim Maredia and Munir Bharwani, allegedly declined to vacate the hotel.
The trustees were also allegedly prevented from entering the hotel premises. A division bench of Justices A S Gadkari and Sharmila Deshmukh has directed the Mumbai Police to investigate the audio clips and submit a report in two weeks. Hotel Marine Plaza, in its earlier avatar as Bombay International, holds the distinction of giving Mumbai its first nightclub, Studio 29 in the 1980s, when the country was gripped by disco fever.
Cong MLA Pressurises Habib Trust Chairman To Accept Petty Offer
Habib Trust chairman Javed Shroff said, “The three-time legislator pressurised the trust management and trustees to settle the matter with Maredia and Bharwani, by accepting a rent of Rs 8 lakh while we were getting offers of Rs 60 lakh from reputed hotel chains.”
In the audio clips, copies of which are in the possession of The Free Press Journal, the MLA is heard asking Javed Shroff to sit with the trustees and find a solution. The MLA claims that he is receiving calls to bring about a settlement. “Police should find out who made the calls to an elected representative,” said Mr Shroff. Senior police officers remained silent on the matter.