PT: Could you sum up in brief the raging controversy about you allegedly “banning” Jam-e-Jamshed from giving it any more BPP advertisements?
YD: I have been primarily looking after the Trust’s finances and working hard with Zarir Bhathena to battle the heavy paucity of funds and liquidity that the BPP is currently undergoing. We have put in a lot of effort to curb unnecessary expenditure. The decision to not give advertisement to Jam-e-Jamshed is the result based on those efforts. This is one of the main reasons I proposed the so-called “ban”, as also stated by me in my letter to its Editor, as under:
Yes you are right that henceforth no advertisements, announcements or notices concerning the BPP will be released in the Jame and that four trustees have voted in favour of the so-called “ban”.
You really have left us with no choice.
- You have refused to offer any more discount other than the usual 15 % when we actually want and need a 50% discount. For the record, the Parsi Times has not charged a single paisa for any BPP advertisement.
- Since the time this new Board has come into office you have always been writing against the BPP and its Trustees. You have published letters attacking the BPP without extending to us the basic courtesy of checking the facts. You have allowed your paper to be misused by Dinshaw Mehta. The most recent letter you published in your weekly dated 26th June 2016 from Dorab Elavia is a classic case in point. Dorab Elavia is a rogue contractor who has been blacklisted by the BPP and has on record said that Dinshaw Mehta is his Godfather. The monies he is asking for pertain to work done in Sanjan way back in 2004 which the then Trustees refused to pay for reasons best known to them. Most recently he has harassed the tenants of H & J Building in Captain Colony forcing the BPP to change the contractor. He was also using Doongerwadi/ Khareghat Colony land as his private godown.
- You have allowed your paper to be misused by Dinshaw Mehta to attack the BPP and individual Trustees including me, either directly or through his cronies like Pervez Driver, Rayomand Zaiwalla, Viraf Kapadia, Kersi Sethna and Dhatigara.
- You do not report on any positive work that the BPP is doing. You failed to report the two day Federation of Anjumans Meeting which for the first time in 20 years was meaningful.
- Your irresponsible conduct is proved by the fact that you had to publish a half page unconditional apology to respected ex-Trustee Lady Mrs. Arnavaz Mistry.
In my opinion you also owe an apology to me and the BPP for allowing absolute rubbish and lies to be published in your paper against us.
This message of mine is exactly what I feel and I have not consulted any of my co-trustees.
I proposed the ban and I am grateful that 3 of my co-Trustees saw merit in the proposal and supported the ban.
I am sorry, but your behavior and conduct has forced us to take this stand.
PT: Have you banned JJ or have you decided not to advertise in the JJ? Please elaborate on the difference.
YD: The BPP has decided not to give any advertisements/advertising material to Jame as the Advertisement rates of Jame are unaffordable for a Charitable Institution which is facing a heavy financial crunch. This is not a “ban” on information – should the Jame wish to carry free of cost for the benefit of the community. The Jame is free to attend all our BPP functions / events.
What Dinshaw Mehta did during his Chairmanship to the Parsi Times can rightly be called a ban. He refused to invite the Parsi Times to cover any BPP function – they were barred from coming to the Federation of Anjumans meeting, the BPP staff was specifically instructed not to call the Parsi Times when the Secretary, Minority Affairs came to the BPP and it was only because I fought and insisted that all the Parsi Press be invited that the Parsi Times editor was invited to the function of the Secretary, Minority Affairs. That is the real meaning and execution of a “ban”. Again, the Jame is free to attend all our BPP functions / events.
PT: It’s alleged that earlier as a Trustee, you paid these Ad-rates and are now suddenly unwilling to only because you are favouring Trustee Kersi Randeria who owns Parsi Times.
YD: It’s not just me but the entire Board which wants a discount owing to the financial crunch in the BPP. Also the previous BPP Board hardly had any Notices published in the media. In the last 7 months, the BPP has allotted 65 free flats and all these sanctioned allotments were published in the Press for the Public to know and send in any objections. The BPP has advertisements inserted literally every week! The quantum of advertisements has increased, therefore a cut in the rates was asked for. On inquiry into the advertising rates charged by the various community newspapers, it was found that Parsi Times was charging Rs.150/- per cc (column centimeter) whereas Mumbai Samachar was charging Rs.255/- per cc and Jame Jamshed was charging Rs.270/- per cc. For the record, Parsi Times has not charged a single paisa to the BPP for any of the housing allotment advertisements. Even though I am very fond of him, this decision is certainly not based on trying to favour Kersi Randeria, my Co-Trustee and proprietor of Parsi Times.
PT: Why didn’t you directly negotiate with JJ? Why was Trustee Viraf Mehta the sole intermediary?
YD: During a Board Meeting when we were discussing Jame’s exorbitant rates, as compared to other community newspapers, Trustee Viraf Mehta volunteered to speak to Shernaaz Engineer and obtain the required 50% discount. All of the rest of us were rather surprised that he shared such closeness with the editor. But if he could help get the required discount which would save the BPP’s outgoings, we were fine with it.
PT: How long did you await a viable discount from the JJ for your advts, before deciding to not place any more advts in the JJ?
YD: We have been awaiting a discount from Jame since December 2015! Only 6 months later when there was no relenting in the Advt-rates did we decide not to place advertisements in the Jame anymore.
PT: JJ’s Editor has said that you went running to the JJ and gave paid Ads at various times during the last few years. What are your views/comments?
YD: Yes. I did go to the Jame and placed ads mostly to clarify and respond to the baseless accusations and lies that Shernaaz Engineer was allowing to be printed in the Jame against me. Shernaaz would not carry a clarification to an accusation usually made by Dinshaw Mehta in her paper against me unless it was paid for as an advertisement. Her excuse was that please keep your clarification short! How is it possible to respond to a full page of lies in 2 small paras? So I was forced to pay for the clarification. I have placed ads regarding the Labour union issue; to counter accusations that my wife Anahita and I have taken jewellery from Dinshaw Mehta’s wife, the fracas in the Boardroom and so many other misrepresentations and lies.
PT: In your email, you have alleged that Ms. Engineer has written against the BPP and published letters attacking the BPP without checking facts with BPP.
YD: There is this instance when Shernaaz Engineer printed a letter about the BPP stopping to give doles to the poor, written by one Ms. Banoo N. Mistry. When our CEO responded to this letter, Shernaaz Engineer instead of just printing our clarification, chose to comment and sit in judgement on that clarification! This was blatantly a clear act against the BPP. It is another matter that the BPP found out and confronted the lady who wrote the letter and she confessed that the letter was written by Dinshaw Mehta and she was forced to sign it!
PT: Why have you alleged in your letter that JJ has attacked you and your fellow Trustees through certain people who you have referred to as “cronies of Dinshaw Mehta”?
YD: There are two clear cases which prove my point. One letter by Dr. Viraf Kapadia published on April 10, 2016, stated that I, BPP Chairman Yazdi Desai had personally not surrendered a flat which I was supposed to have done – utter lies allowed to be published without the basic courtesy of checking facts. The most recent letter published in Jame dated 26th June 2016 from Dorab Elavia is a classic case in point. Dorab Elavia is a rogue contractor who has been blacklisted by the BPP and has on record said that Dinshaw Mehta is his Godfather. The monies he is asking for pertain to work done in Sanjan way back in 2004 which the then Trustees refused to pay for reasons best known to them. Most recently he has harassed the tenants of H & J Building in Captain Colony forcing the BPP to change the contractor. He was also using Doongerwadi/ Khareghat Colony land as his private godown!
PT: You alleged that JJ did not report on the Federation Meeting, which according to you was the first meaningful meeting in 20 years. Kindly elucidate.
YD: Yes, it is true. Shernaaz herself attended this Federation Meeting, but covered absolutely nothing in the Jame, of this very crucial meeting of the Anjumans of India! In the past every Federation Meeting has been reported in detail by Shernaaz. Judge for yourself.
PT: You have stated, as a Board, that Dr. Master has been allotted the flat on the request of the donor family which has donated 1500 prime flats to the Parsi community. Are there any such precedents in the past that can justify this stand taken by the present BPP Board about the right of donors to influence certain allotments?
YD: Yes, donors continually exercise their right to influence certain allotments. The allotments to Viraf Kapadia and Shernaaz Engineer’s own brother are classic cases of such rights being exercised by donors!
PT: The current BBP Board claims to have allotted 65 free flats to our community members in 6 months, compared to 75 flats in the last 7 years (by the previous Board). Inspite of this achievement, why are some individuals constantly speaking only of the case about the allotment to Dr. Farokh Master?
YD: Isn’t it obvious? There are people who just do not want the present Board to succeed and show results and good work. “Harp on this one case so that the focus and attention shifts from the positive work being done” – is their motto.
PT: If JJ was to give you a 50% discount or higher as discussed by you in your letter, would you advertise in JJ again?
YD: We would consider it.
PT: Are your issues with JJ as a newspaper and institution, or with the individual Editor of the paper? Why?
YD: It is a fact that the Editor plays the most important role in shaping the image of a newspaper. Kuldip Nayar, a stalwart journalist has recently said, “And I find that increasingly, we the journalists are failing in the standards required from us. None of this has been helped by the new digital technology that promotes very short stories or sound bites. In fact, things have deteriorated to such an extent today that news columns can be bought. It is an open secret that several stories are nothing more than paid news. Some leading newspapers feel no shame in selling the space to whoever wants to buy it. For them it is purely a question of revenue. How low have we sunk from the heights that we once enjoyed.” I cannot think of more apt words to describe what Shernaaz Engineer has done to Jame.