NY businessman laments bad run of investing in India

New York: An Indian-American entrepreneur with import-export business in New York has appealed for justice as he is likely to lose a significant investment made in Maharashtra.

Harssh Madhok apparently created 200 jobs in Thane, near Mumbai, by setting up a Volkswagen car dealership. He is now faced with a situation where all that will come to a naught.

We did everything legally. We go there with life savings and things dont go the way they should. We are not treated the way we deserve to be treated, he told a news conference in Manhattan Sept 6 in the presence of members of FIA and Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce, cautioning potential NRI investors against bureaucratic and other hurdles in India.

Madhok claims that as part of the first phase of his project, with an estimated outlay of Rs 500 crore, he entered a lease agreement over a 70,000 sq ft dealership showroom in Thane. Last year he opened the showroom, the first of many planned to create hundreds of jobs in Maharashtra as he was drawn by Prime Minister Narendra Modis invitation to NRIs to help develop India.

He claims that his business was illegally hijacked and he was denied access to the leased space. Even worse, when I tried to seek justice I was met with threats from the landlord, the police department and local officials, said a press release issued on his behalf. His frustration grew as he got no response from the office of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Madhok, accompanied by his grown up children at the press conference, noted, We dont want to say that everyone there (in India) is bad; theres nothing wrong with the value system there. He, however, blamed for his plight a personal assistant and other bureaucrats in Fadnavis office.

The entrepreneur alleged that the local dealer for Honda and Tata cars undermined his business by using his political clout and bribery. The landlord bypassed the legal system, broke open my showroom locks (in June) and made threatening calls to me, he claimed, adding the CMs assistant apparently received a luxury car as bribe. The vandalism resulted in the destruction of computers, furniture and other items in the showroom, he reported.

Highlighting corruption in setting up a business in India, Madhok said he had approached high level officials in New Delhi, US-India Business Council and Indian missions here. But to no avail.

Madhok said he is mulling taking legal action while accepting that it is going to take a long time before the courts settle the matter.

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