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You can’t be popular if you aren’t controversial: Mohabat Singh Tuli

Mohabat Singh Tuli
Mohabat Singh Tuli (Photo by: Kartik Thakur)

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.

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Nagpur News

Rushikesh Lohit reigns as numero uno in Rapid Championship; Shaunak Badole tops Nagpur Blitz Championship




Radhika Dhawad | Nagpur

Rushikesh Lohit won the Nagpur District Rapid Championship while Shaunak Badole won the Nagpur District Blitz Chess Championship.

Rushikesh Lohit won the Nagpur District Rapid Championship while Shaunak Badole won the Nagpur District Blitz Chess Championship held at Vivekanand Hall, Shraddha House, Kingsway, Near Kasturchand Park in Nagpur.

The championship was organised  by Chess Association Nagpur in association with Kalpana Prakash Welfare Foundation and G.H.Raisoni Sports and Cultural Foundation. Muktanand Pendsey finished second in the both Rapid and Blitz Championship. Rushikesh Lohit and Muktanand Pendsey will represent Nagpur in the Rapid Championship and Shaunak and Muktanand will represent Nagpur District in the Maharashtra State Blitz Championship.

Mangesh Kashikar, Secretary, Nagpur District Badminton Association and Vice President of Maharashtra Badminton Association was the Chief Guest who distributed the prizes. Bhushan Shriwas, Secretary, CAN and Kalpana Prakash Welfare Foundation, SS.Soman, Working President, CAN and Amrish Joshi, Chief Arbiter were present on the occasion.

The Top two finishers of Rapid and Blitz Championship were awarded Trophies whereas the players finishing from 3rd to 10th place were awarded Medals in both the championship. In addition to the main prizes, age group prizes were also distributed to top two finishers in each group.

The championship was conducted by Chief Arbiter Amrish Joshi assisted by SNA Swati Kumbhalkar, SNA Amit Tembhurne, Shyam Agrawal, Prayas Amabde and Prathamesh Machave.

Also read: Wine connoisseurs come together at Wine and Food Festival 2022 in Nagpur

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Nagpur News

Wine connoisseurs come together at Wine and Food Festival 2022 in Nagpur




Avani Arya | Photographer : Nitin Mankar | Nagpur

Wine connoisseurs came together at Wine and Food Festival 2022 in Nagpur, which took place on December 3 and 4. This was the ninth edition. It was hosted by Nagpur Wine Club, and was held at Bhagwati Lawn. The festival was open to all, where people enjoyed wine tasting and lip-smacking food by The Breakfast Story, Nagpur. Nation Next brings you some exclusive photos from the event.

Also Read: I-Clean Nagpur beautifies 232nd spot, decorates walls with Warli designs

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Nagpur News

‘Maharashtra government responsive towards issues of traders,’ assures Eknath Shinde




Nation Next Newsroom | Nagpur
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said Maharashtra government was responsive towards issues of traders.

L to R: Eknath Shinde and Dipen Agrawal

At the outset Dr Dipen Agrawal, President of Chamber of Associations of Maharashtra Industry and Trade (CAMIT) welcomed Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde with a floral bouquet in prominent presence of Krupal Tumane MP, Ramtek and submitted memorandums highlighting harassment of traders by Local Body Tax department across the state under the garb of LBT Assessment. He also appraised about the issue of Nagpur Metropolitan Region Development Authority (NMRDA) and he further brought to the notice of CM about the exorbitant hike in rent by Corporations & their coercive action on traders.

Dr Agrawal on behalf of traders of Maharashtra expressed his gratitude towards Eknath Shinde about Local Body Tax being abolished (LBT with effect from August 2015. Though LBT was abolished in 2015 but the ghost of LBT is haunting traders now and then, department in routine are passing ex-party (best judgement) orders raising inflated and fictitious tax demands and using them to justify continuance of LBT Department. Records from LBT Appellate Authority will evidence the correctness of this statement. He also informed that LBT Department in various Corporation indulged in issuing back dated assessment orders for previous financial years. He appealed to CM that the issue requires his urgent attention, intervention and directions for closure of LBT Department in all Municipal Corporations with immediate effect to ensure ease of doing business in the state and save traders from unnecessary harassment.

Eknath Shinde acknowledged that he is aware of the issue. He assured to discuss the issue in cabinet and ensure that the issue is addressed on priority basis.

Dr Dipen Agrawal informed CM, that since last few years Municipal Corporations across the state stopped renewing lease/license of property leased/licensed by them. In 2019 the state government came up with Maharashtra Municipal Corporations (Renewal of Lease or Transfer of Immovable Property) Rules, 2019. These Rules were strongly opposed by trade associations. However, after its implementation the litigation between the lessee/tenants and Corporations went to court added Dr Agrawal. 

After great persuasion by the then LOP, you as minister for UDD agreed to the demand to put the notification dated 13/09/2019 in abeyance and review the exorbitant annual rent at 8% property value and fix the annual rent acceptable to all stakeholders. 

After the issue was raised on the floor of the house, the State government stayed the operation of notification dated 13/09/2019 and constituted a committee of government officers to review and fix fresh rent. When we approached few members of the committee to submit our suggestions’ we learnt that the committee is of opinion that the notification in question does not apply to the Licensee holder. 

Hence, in the background of above facts and circumstances Agrawal requested CM, to intervene and have the pending notification issued and fix the rent at 0.5% of Ready Reckoner value for residential & 1% for commercial lease holder Galedharaks . He further requested to notify similar rules and frame a single policy for the Licensee Galedharaks across the state and in cases where shop/otta is licensed by Corporation the annual rent be fixed at the rate of 2% of value as per ready reckoner and as the lease/license fee will be calculated on ready reckoner the clause of periodic increase dose not survive also the lease / license should be transferable and transfer fee to be charged equal to one month rent/fee for transfer within blood relation and equal to three months’ rent/fee for transfer outside blood relation and the agreed new lease rent/license fee to be made applicable prospectively and not retrospectively.

Eknath Shinde said that the issue is under active consideration and assured to look into the matter and discuss with Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

Dr. Dipen Agrawal further informed Eknath Shinde that the first notification declared 5 Km area touching outer limits of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) as Nagpur Metro Region issued in 1995 which was thereafter increased time to time to present limit of 25 Km from boundary of NMC. In 2010 Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) was entrusted with responsibility of Special Planning Authority for Nagpur Metro Region the limits. In 2012 NIT passed resolution for preparing development plan for Metro Region and published Draft Development Plan (2012-2032) calling objection and suggestions, in the year 2015. In 2017 Nagpur Metropolitan Region Development Authority (NMRDA) was established. In 2018 Final Development Plan (2012-2032) for Nagpur Metro Region was sanctioned and notified. NMRDA action is based on following three main reasons:- 

1) Side margins are not as per 2012-2032 DCR; Dr. Agrawal highlighted that majority of units i.e., 59% were established before the 2012-NIT resolution and 85% were established before the first publication of 2015-Draft Development Plan (2012-2032), and pointed out that it is unjust on part of NMRDA to expect these units to maintain the margins prescribed in DCR (2012-32).

2) Building plan/ Non-agriculture use is not sanctioned by competent authority; Dr. Agrawal pointed out that under MRTP Act the power to change use of land is can be delegated to Thasildar and powers to authorise development to Gram Panchayat concerned. Invoking these powers Thasildar was approving and sanctioning NA Permissions and Gram Panchayat was sanctioning Building Plans. The units in good faith have taken these permissions from them and further submitted to other Government agencies.

3) Land earmarked for purpose other than industrial/commercial; MRTP Act provides for survey and preparing ‘existing-land-use’ map by Planning Authority after its declaration of intention of preparing a Development Plan. It is surprising to note that the area of many units established prior to declaration of intention of preparing Development Plan is not classified under industrial/commercial zone.

Dr. Dipen Agrawal humbly requested CM to grant an Amnesty Scheme for regularization wherein interest & penalty would be waived and also direct the authorities to notify that the MSME units established prior to 06/01/2018 (the date on which the DCR 2012-2032 for Nagpur Metropolitan Region was notified) should be saved from the provisions of the said DCR.

Eknath Shinde said that the government is sized with issue and assured to resolve the matter in the best interest of all stakeholders.

Dr. Dipen Agrawal, President-CAMIT on behalf of business community of the state expressed his gratitude towards Eknath Shinde, Chief Minister, Krupal Tumane, Member of Parliament, Ramtek for being sensitive towards the issues of trade & industry of the state.

Also read: I-Clean Nagpur beautifies 232nd spot, decorates walls with Warli designs

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