In an alleged shootout between brothers, 55-year-old liquor baron Gurdeep Singh Chadha, known as Ponty Chadha, was shot dead around 1 pm on Saturday. His younger brother, Hardeep, also died in the firing at Ponty’s 10-acre Chhattarpur farmhouse in New Delhi, apparently over a property dispute. This leaves a question mark over the Chadhas’ Rs 6,000-crore business empire, now branded Wave Inc.
A meeting was arranged between the brothers to resolve a dispute over ownership of some property, sources said. It started on a peaceful note but soon turned ugly, following which one of the brothers allegedly opened fire. The other responded with gunfire, and a personal security guard also got involved, they said. The company refused to comment on the incident.
On October 5, gunshots were reported from Ponty Chadha’s ancestral house in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad district, but no one was injured.
|THE CHADHA EMPIRE|
The Chadha empire ranges from distilleries, multiplexes, sugar and paper mills to real estate, poultry, film production and distribution.
The three brothers, Ponty, Rajinder, Hardeep, and Ponty’s son, Manpreet (aka Monty), were running the group across sectors. Ponty was in charge of the liquor distribution business. Monty runs the real estate and poultry business. Rajinder takes care of the financial aspect while the deceased brother, Hardeep, was said to have not been involved in the day-to-day running of any of the group businesses.
The group controls nearly 80 per cent of Uttar Pradesh’s liquor business, according to industry estimates. The business was started in 1952 as the Chadha Group by Kulwant Singh Chadha, the brothers’ father. It obtained a country liquor licence in Moradabad and was revamped as Wave Inc later. Ponty took control of the group’s overall operations in March 2009. He had been known for his political connections and clout.
The group grew under Mulayam Singh Yadav’s regime in Uttar Pradesh, and entered the realty business at that point. Ponty was believed to have been close to the Mayawati government subsequently, which handed him the wholesale rights to distribute liquor in the state in 2009. This was the first instance of an individual getting complete control of distribution of liquor in a state. In 2010, he bagged five of the 11 sick sugar mills sold by UP. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found ‘discrepancies’ in the BSP government’s auction of sugar mills, many of which went to Chadha. Ponty was also seen at the swearing-in ceremony of Akhilesh Yadav, when he took over as chief minister in March this year.
Monty finalised a Rs 350-crore foray into India’s Rs 30,000-crore poultry market with a four-acre plant in Noida.
Ponty had hit the headlines earlier this year when the I-T department conducted searches at his premises. The buzz is the empire may now be divided, and legal disputes cannot be ruled out. “Real estate can still be managed by the son, as he brought professionals from the corporate world but for the liquor business, one needs power and influence as it needs renewal of licences on a year-to-year basis. That’s where Ponty was running the show,” said an analyst.