The Gupta family: Saharanpur’s Rani Bazaar still in awe of their meteoric rise

Residents back sons of the soil, narrate their ‘inspiring stories’, and say they are the best thing to have happened to Saharanpur.

February 15, 2018 09:47 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 07:59 am IST -

The front gate of Gupta brothers’ ancestral house at the Rani Bazar area of Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Photo: Mohammad Ali

The front gate of Gupta brothers’ ancestral house at the Rani Bazar area of Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Photo: Mohammad Ali

Life in Rani Bazaar area of Saharanpur went on as usual on Thursday but the centre of attention was a decrepit two-floor house, with its plaster coming off and gate almost falling away.

It is the house where the Gupta brothers, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, grew up and lived till they left the country to become the industrial tycoons of South Africa and close allies of Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa.

South Africa may have turned hostile to the brothers but the residents of Rani Bazaar continue to tell “inspiring stories” of the meteoric rise of the sons of the soil.

“The Gupta brothers are the best thing to have happened to Saharanpur,” declared Javed Sabri, a family friend of the South African industrialists, while standing in front of their ancestral house. The three brothers were inspired by their father Shiv Kumar Gupta, a small time trader who ran a company which distributed soapstone powder in the city, said Sabri, a man in the early forties who is an influential resident of the town, also because of his proximity to the Guptas.


Ajay Gupta (50), Atul Gupta (47) and Rajesh Gupta (44) grew up in the bylanes of Rani Bazaar. They studied at the local JV Jain college from where Ajay completed his B.Com and then finished his Chartered Accountancy course. Atul finished B.Sc. and did a course in computer hardware and assembling. Rajesh did B.Sc.

“Shiv Kumar Gupta was a visionary. So even when his sons after their education, established a company in Delhi which imported spices from Madagascar and Zanzibar, he kept on telling them to dream big and go to uncharted territories with immense business possibilities. So in 1993 the brothers moved to Johannesburg,” said Sabri.

While the South African politics was in turmoil Ajay and Atul, were attending a Mahashivratri procession in Rani Bazaar, he said.

“Both Ajay And Atul were here on Tuesday and they left the same day. But there was no worry on their faces. Because they have done no wrong. They have a base in Dehradun where they live but they keep coming here and are in touch with their family and friends,” he added.

The local residents, some of whom are related to the Gupta brothers, defended them and gave “testimonies to their hard work.”

“The allegations against Ajay, Atul and Rajesh are completely false. It was only a pressure tactic to make Zuma resign,” said Asutosh Agarwal, a relative who lives next to the ancestral house of the Guptas.

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