Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Early on 4th December, 2006, the factory of TilSpices Pvt. Ltd. was razed to the ground. In this convoluted civil dispute, a brutal land mafia has connived with the owner of the property to oust an honest couple who were the tenants on that property.

Husband and wife pair of Sudhir and Aruna were running a successful spice manufacturing unit in Perungudi called TilSpices Pvt. Ltd. (Til for Trust in the Lord). They had entered into an agreement with the owner of the property, a man called Venkatraman who got the power of attorney from his father who is in coma. The agreement signed by him in 2004 says that he will sell the property to them for 60 lakh rupees. However at the time of registration he backed out, given that land prices were going through the roof along the IT corridor.

Construction activity is on everywhere, with buildings coming up on both sides of this demolished factory. The agreement for this 6 ground property was 10 lakh rupees per ground. But at the time of registration, Venkatraman never showed up.

Aruna and Sudhir have suffered damages of nearly 3 crore rupees. Venkatraman and his bunch of hired henchmen have given stolen and destroyed their property. Aruna says, "Venkatraman also has two children like me. He's raising two more monsters for this world."

At the site, there are a whole bunch of shady looking characters hanging around. The place is being fenced off and I'm certain construction will begin soon. Aruna's equpment has been stolen and damaged but the police are telling her to get out of there. The Assistant Commissioner from the J1 police station said she had no business there. The goons are even trying to sell the media photographs of her "stealing" Venkatraman's property.

But he didn’t re-negotiate with Aruna and that forced her to go to court to make him keep his end of the bargain. Venkatraman of course just ignored the court summons.

Now, Aruna says, the factory has been demolished at his behest to get her out of there by hook or by crook. A local land-broker, called Kodandaraman (with some heavy duty connections that include High Court judges) was hired for the job and in three hours 100 men with bulldozers smashed Venkatraman’s factory and Aruna’s business. Venkatraman can now get much, much more for the property with Aruna out of the way.

This brazen illegal act has the blessings of the police. A senior police officer told Aruna that his hands were tied because somebody above him had been bribed. The officer admitted to her that it was a rape of justice and that he was truly ashamed. But alas, honest men can do nothing.

This story has sickened me because the rot of corruption has such deep roots. Not that I didn’t know it, but it sickens me because perfectly decent, honest people are attacked in this manner and their livelihood is destroyed.

The people who should protect us are the ones we need protection from – the police. This entire episode has left Aruna and Sudhir shocked because everywhere they turn they find people have been bought up. Aruna says, “I am strong and I believe in God, so I am able to take this shock. But what if someone had ended their lives because of this?”

The police and Venkatraman would’ve heaved a sigh of relief. That’s how soulless this tribe is. But its got to come back to haunt them and I hope they suffer the consequences of their dirty greed.

Monday, December 04, 2006


In the centre of the city of Kolding, stands the castle of Koldinghus (pron. Kollinghoos). On this site once stood a fortress built by the Danish King - Erik Glipping in the year 1268 - meant to guard the border between the Kingdom of Denmark and the Duchy of Schleswig (in Germany). The fortress was rebuilt as an unfortfied castle in the mid-16th century at which time the King often stayed at Koldinghus. In the 1720s the castle was again rebuilt but by then the members of the royal court were only infrequent visitors and the castle was allowed to fall into disrepair.

In 1808 some Spanish auxiliary troops, stationed there in the Napoleonic wars stoked the fire in one of the hearths so fiercely that the castle itself burnt down. Reuilding work was not started until as late as 1890.

The rebuilt castle (above) today draws plenty of visitors. The architects who restored it are Inger and Johannes Exner. Scandinavian design is truly classic and minimalist, employing material in its natural form to achieve both function and style. The castle has been restored in keeping with that tradition. Indeed, the reconstruction is modern and seems incongruous at times – contrasting sharply with the weathered red brick walls, although, it does not diminish by way of aesthetics.

There is a magnificent view (below) from the top of the Great Tower. (Great Tower known as 'Heroes Tower' was added around 1600.)

This is where you park your car, where the stables once were.

Right next to the castle is a river where you will always find a boat. This particular boat (sorry, no picture) has to be kept ready at all times for the Queen. If the Queen were to arrive at the castle and wanted to cruise down the river, then she should never be disappointed and for that aim to be fulfilled the boat remains docked in this river perennially.

The Danes incidentally are quite crazy about their monarchy, following their lives and loves as closely as any monarcho-phile in, lets say, Britian. I asked an agricultural teacher, Jørgen P. Jensen why they loved their monarchy so much and he said, “I think its because they are quite sensible people.” Down to earth for sure, because when we were in a place called Gråsten (pron. Grosteeng) where the Queen has her summer home, people say, you can actually run into her, shopping for groceries in the neighbourhood supermarket.