One of the most popular members of the Tuli family in Nagpur, hotelier Mohabat Singh Tuli, owner of Hotel Tuli International at Sadar and Tuli Veer Bagh in Pench, is known for his chilled out attitude. With his business acumen, he expanded his business empire from a budget hotel Skylark at Central Avenue to the famous Tuli Group of Hotels and Resorts.
Apart from being a successful businessman and a cricket enthusiast, he has keen interest in palmistry too. In a candid chat with Nation Next, the hotelier shares his tragic partition story, his early life and his close friendship with former Maharashtra Chief Minister late Vilasrao Deshmukh and former Maharashtra CM Sushilkumar Shinde. In a conversation with Mohabat Singh Tuli?
Your family relocated to Nagpur from Amritsar post the partition. Please share with us the experience…
I won’t say it was an India-Pakistan partition; rather it was the division of Punjab because no Muslims left Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, etc. Punjab previously comprised Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, part of Rajasthan and Punjab (present-day Pakistan).
So, during partition, Muslims vacated the entire Punjab (present-day India) and shifted to Pakistan. When we migrated to India, we were allowed to occupy any vacant house we wanted.
This is how all the occupants became owners of the residences. We came across refugee camps in Amritsar from where we literally walked down to Jalandhar, as there was no means of commute. While on our way, we witnessed heaps of dead bodies. There was an announcement made that no flowing water should be consumed because it had become poisonous.
There wasn’t a single house where a member or two weren’t murdered. Some even lost their lives while crossing the border. From Jalandhar, we came to Delhi where we stayed in Daryaganj.
Then, we went back to Punjab (present-day Haryana). We were given a land there in lieu of the land we had in Pakistan by the Indian government.
We had 500 acres of land in Pakistan, for which the Indian government gave us 50 acres as compensation. In fact, we had five villages in Pakistan. We had hundreds of acres of land in Haryana, Delhi and NCR, for which we got Rs 57,000 from the Government of India as compensation.
What was your familys occupation in Pakistan?
We were basically agriculturists and we owned a transport business too. Also, we had a cotton mill in Pakistan. But when we came to India, my father carried only Rs 1600.
I feel the biggest reason why all the Sikhs who had migrated from Pakistan to India are prospering is because they have seen the worst. Now, they are all over in the world, doing so well.
You made a humble beginning by establishing a budget hotel Skylark at Central Avenue in Nagpur. How did Tuli group of hotels come into being?
We are the pioneers in the hospitality industry in Nagpur. All the actors and celebrities right from Yash Chopra, Mohammad Rafi, etc., would stay at Skylark. Our hotel would have 140% occupancy then because of which we would use our only hall in the hotel to accommodate the waiting guests.
All the guests and their luggage would be kept there and whichever room would be vacant during the day would be allotted to the guest. It was fun working in such a set up. Skylarks first guest was industrialist Rahul Bajaj. He had come to visit Wardha so he wanted to stay overnight in Nagpur.
But, hotels opening was scheduled for the next day. So, we allotted him a room for ₹35. I bought a table lamp for Rs 35 as a return gift for him. We would earn profit from alcohol with a margin of 250%. We would sell chilled beer bottle worth Rs1 for Rs 2.5 to our guests! I loved taking orders personally from our guests then.
We would try to attain maximum billing by insisting on soups and ice creams, as it had the highest margin. We would literally identify, target and gather around our potential customers by insisting them for ice cream and soup.
The salary of our senior receptionist in 1973 was ₹170 per month. This is how we gradually came up with Tuli International.
During your initial days, while driving a truck and doing all sorts of jobs, you still lived life king size. Even then you enjoyed your alcohol and tandoori chicken everyday?
One should never work in stress. I had planned my itinerary such that I would attend college from 7 am to 10 am; take bath under the hand pump at my petrol pump, finish my bank work and would anxiously wait till 4 pm.
I would then go to Hislop Colleges ground where I would run for an hour. I was be a regular at Ashoka restaurant (which was earlier Ashoka Tea Palace) at Sadar, where I would have my tomato soup, and tandoori chicken at Moti Mahal, Sadar, every single day! After going home, I would again relish non-veg and rotis. By 9 pm, I would leave and visit my petrol pump.
Despite not being the eldest of all the brothers, you come across as the troubleshooter of sorts for the Tuli family….
I have always been a troubleshooter for everybody. I remember, it was Manoj Jayaswals son, Abhijeets wedding in Udaipur. We all were put up in a five star hotel and we all were ?whiskey-lovers.
All my whiskey-lover friends started worrying because they knew that it was a Marwari wedding so there was no question of alcohol. And there I was, carrying three bottles of whiskey! (Laughs) You see it’s very important to be stress free in life.
There seem to be lot many controversies around the Tulis. Why do you think it is so? How do you deal with it? Many say that the Tulis are the most popular and controversial. Why?
You can’t be popular if you aren’t controversial! (Chuckles) How does one become popular? It’s when people oppose you. Bad name and bad reputation travels faster, so you become talked about and popular. A good name doesn’t reach people quickly. Having said that, if people don’t talk bad, how would they know your good side?
From Vilasrao Deshmukh to Sushilkumar Shinde to many others, you have been thick of friends with many senior politicians and Chief Ministers. Why didn’t you join politics
I was the General Secretary of Indian Youth Congress and Nagpur Secretary for Student Union when I was studying in Law College, Nagpur. If Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and I would ever be in Nagpur, we would make it a point to always meet up to maintain our good friendship.
In fact, Satish Chaturvedi had once asked me that why don’t I get settled in Mumbai as I could easily earn Rs 400-500 crores because of my proximity towards politicos like Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde. I told him that if I had used my connections with them, they wouldn’t have considered me as genuine as they consider me now.
So, I never did any such thing. I wasn’t interested in politics as such because when Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984, I was quite active in Congress.
Unfortunately, at that time, politicians would get conscious if I’d visit their place because I was a Sikh. I realised that if this is the mentality, it’s better I don’t waste my time in politics. Politics is not the only field to become popular. You can make a mark in your field and you can earn fame.
Everybody is coming up with resorts in the Madhya Pradesh side of Pench. For a change, you have set up a resort, Tuli Veer Bagh, in Maharashtra despite no forest being properly maintained. Hows the response? Has this risk paid off? Why did you choose Maharashtra over Madhya Pradesh?
The government is at fault. All they can see is Tadoba. Even the newspapers always mention Tadoba and not Kuswanda Gate. In fact, tigers roam everywhere and sighting is prevalent.
The forest officials have to maintain a proper record about visitors sightings and experiences. The government is not interested; hence they aren’t paying attention towards Maharashtra forests. We have better forests than Madhya Pradeshs. The density of our forests is quite high but the problem is that we only focus on tigers and forget the potential Maharashtra forests have.
If people say that Madhya Pradesh is better, then they should prove it. Ultimately, it’s one forest, which has been divided into two.
Madhya Pradesh has improved roads though but even we are making good roads now. Tuli Veer Bagh is a property, which is going to exist for hundreds of years and so are the forests. It’s only going to be expanded because of the awareness of wildlife and the good response we are getting.
You were recently charged for land grabbing case in Godhani through forgery, on complaint of Sameer Siddiqui Parvez…
Sameer Siddiqui Parvez is a partner with Rishi Tekriwal, who is the brother-in-law of BJP MLA Sameer Meghe. Meghe played a game by lodging a false complaint against me. It’s Sameers constituency (Hingna). No way are we involved in this. We were just cultivating the land since past 14 years; we are not the owners of the land.
What are we going to do with six to seven acres of land when we have 300 acres of land in the city? If at all this is true, under section 420, it is a non-bailable offence. So, why haven’t the police arrested me yet? They just wanted to get the land vacated so they filed a case. This is cheap politics by the BJP.
There can’t be a single case against me. If you roam in a Mercedes, would you steal a scooter? What is their status as compared to mine? Sameer Meghes definitely going to help his brother-in-law, isn’t he? The Tulis have never done such things and we don’t need to them as well.
RMBRCN celebrates Charter Presentation & Installation, Rina Sinha becomes Charter President
The Rotary Means Business chapter of Rotary Club Of Nagpur (RMBRCN) celebrated their Charter Presentation and Installation of Board on September 17, 2023 in a crisp official ceremony at Hotel Centre Point, Nagpur.
Rotary Means Business encourages Rotarians to support the success of their fellow Rotarians by doing business with them and by referring others to them.
Charter President Past President Rtn Rina Sinha presided over the ceremony. Renowned entrepreneur and Rotarian Aspi Bapuna, Chairman of Bapuna Group, was the Chief Guest and Rtn Namita Sharma, President of RCN, was the Guest of Honour.
The Board of Directors of RMBRCN include Rtn Navneet Jain, Vice President, Rtn Mohammed Master, Honorary Secretary, Rtn Sanjay Aggarwal Treasurer, Rtn Rakhi Bhatia Director Chapter Service, Rtn Rahul Shrivastava, Director Vocational Service, Dr Ruchi Choudhry, Director Membership Development, Ranjana Duseja, Director Attendance.
Past Rotary District Governor (PDG) Shabbir Shakir, Past Presidents- Bharat Goenka , Khushnoor Chugh, Sanjiv Chugh, Akhtar Parvez, Tejinder Singh Rawal, Alok Goenka, Jerestine Watchmaker, Sandeep Dhodapkar, Sanjay Arora, President RMB Nagpur, and Behram Patel and Amitabh Sinha were present.
President Rina Sinha informed that within a short period of its formation already 48 members representing various businesses have joined the chapter and the numbers are increasing . The Chapter has already crossed 5 crores of business amongst their members and RMB will further strengthen Rotary in membership growth and retention .
Chief Guest Rtn Aspi Bapuna lauded the chapter’s success and reiterated that its comfortable and safe to do business among fellow rotarians as all follow the Four Way Test of Rotary. Jerestine introduced President Rina. Aspi Bapuna presented the charter and installed President Rina Sinha . Rtn Namita congratulated the RMB chapter and informed that this is the new initiative at RCN.The Board was installed by Rina Sinha and all members were installed by the Past Presidents. An exclusive digital Monthly Magazine ‘Growth Engine’ was launched by Editor Niharika Chugh Vali.
Navneet Jain and Rahul Choudhry conducted the referral and thank you session where enthusiastic members informed about their successful business details. Nishchay Sinha launched the social media and MYRMB app which connects members to other chapters digitally, Treasurer Sanjay Agarwal gave treasurers report, Rtn Rakhi Bhatia managed the event. Rtn Parag Datey and Niharika were the Masters of Ceremony (MOCs). Secretary Mohammed Master proposed the formal Vote of Thanks .
Nitin Gadkari inaugurates double-decker electric bus availed for senior citizens in Nagpur
Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, on Saturday, inaugurated the double-decker electric bus designed for senior citizens in Nagpur. The initiative has been undertaken in association with Ashok Leyland’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Committee and Jyeshtha Nagarik Pratishthan.
Executive President of Jyeshtha Nagarik Pratishthan Datta Meghe, Vice Chairman of Ashok Leyland Limited Yash Sachar, CEO of Switch Mobility Mahesh Babu, and other dignitaries were present during the inauguration.
“I am very thankful to Ashok Leyland’s electric vehicle arm ‘Switch Mobility’ for donating an electric bus for our senior citizens. The bus can hold a capacity of 65 people and will benefit a lot to disabled and senior citizens,” Gadkari said.
“We already have a green Electra bus available to us for the past five to six years. Krishna Reddy has taken the responsibility of repairing and providing air-conditioning to the bus, moreover, he is providing us with one additional bus. A Tata Motor bus will be arriving this month as well, giving us a total of four buses to operate. This will solve the issue of waiting list due to the lack of buses for senior citizens in the city.” he added.
With the help of these buses, senior citizens can avail the benefit of free trips to religious places like Ambhora, Adasa, Shegaon, Mahur, Dhapewada, and Kalamb.
Nagpur: Married man accused of girlfriend’s rape commits suicide on Facebook live
A 38-year-old married man named Manish alias Raj Yadav, on Sunday, committed suicide during a Facebook live-stream after allegedly being accused of rape by his girlfriend and her family in Nagpur.
During the live stream, Manish, who was married and a father to three children, stated that his 19-year-old girlfriend, Kajal, along with her family members demanded a sum of five lakh rupees and threatened to press charges of rape if he failed to do so.
On September 6, the situation became grave as the woman’s family accused him of eloping after Kajal went missing from her residence.
The deceased refused the claims of having any sexual relationship with the woman and identified her, her family, and a photo studio operator responsible for his condition. He, then, jumped into the river.
After the live video surfaced online, Kalamna Police launched a search operation and recovered the deceased’s body from the river. Four people have been detained in the case for questioning. Further investigation is underway.