At 33, Trilochan Singh Rana dreamt big. He had every reason to. Running a successful family business of making diamond needle cartridges used for playing music records, he would travel to Switzerland several times a year. But on November 1, 1984, when a mob torched his unit in the Wazirpur Industrial Area, life turned on its head.
Though he lost a lot financially and socially since then, his sense of humour has not deserted him. “I have now forgotten what Switzerland was like. Ask me about Badarpur and the dirt and grime of Delhi, and I’ll be able to tell you more. While my business suffered, I developed another identity. Many now think I am a lawyer, as I have spent most of the past 25 years in courts fighting cases.”
But behind this façade of the man, who lives at East Patel Nagar, is a lot of pain. He insists that the family was fortunate that the rioters struck at the unit, and not at its house, on a Wednesday. “That is the weekly off day, and so my brothers stayed back. Otherwise, we would not have seen them again.”
After looting the unit, the rioters set it ablaze. Products worth Rs. 25 lakh were destroyed. However, the Fire Department refused to issue any certificate. “And though the building was insured against fire, the National Assurance Company Limited refused to pay up, saying the damage was caused in a riot,” Mr. Rana says. A sum of Rs. 50,000 was paid by way of compensation within three months, but it was too little. “I wrote to the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, seeking help, but no assistance came my way.”
The troubles for the family did not end. In 1986, it tried to start up, opening a plastic container unit. But the Delhi Electricity Supply Undertaking registered a case against it for changing the use of the property and accused it of “sub-letting” it. The case dragged on for 10 years before a Delhi court dismissed the DESU charge.
The conduct of the Delhi State Industrial Development Corporation, which allotted the plot under a scheme for unemployed engineers and graduates, has also angered Mr. Rana. He insists that while the Supreme Court ruled that all riot victims be charged interest on loans at just one per cent, the Corporation claimed that it was not a financial company and refused to give this relief for the plot taken on hire purchase. Even after the Delhi High Court called for a “reasonable and sympathetic” attitude, the Corporation refused relief. He also met Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit but in vain.
In the meantime, Mr. Rana fought a case against the National Small Industries Corporation for refusing to charge him interest at one per cent for the equipment loan he had taken. He was also involved in a dispute with the power supplier, NDPL, that charged him with removing the hinges from the meter box cover. “Their case was found false, and they later withdrew it. But now I intend taking them to court,” says this veteran of court battles.