The newspaper hawker who became a millionaire

Reporters and editors—and proprietors—becoming millionaires overnight is no longer news. In India’s naxal heartland, a news hawker becoming one is.

Jaideep Hardikar reports in The Telegraph, Calcutta, on the curious case of Pawan Dubey and his Toyota Fortuner. And it is all linked to payouts made by the steel company, Essar, to buy peace from the Maoists.

“Pawan, who once hawked one of Raipur’s oldest Hindi newspapers, Deshbandhu, and his brother Narendra registered a voluntary organisation in Bastar, the Jai Johar Seva Sangthan, on January 10 last year. The police say the NGO opened its bank account on January 21 and the very next day, Essar deposited Rs 1 crore in the account.

“Investigators claim the company paid Jai Johar Rs 9.6 crore in just six months — over and above the Rs 3 crore in CSR funds it handed the Dantewada collector this year. They add that the Dubey brothers were close to Lala. In a written reply to The Telegraph, Essar has confirmed it “paid Rs 9.6 crore in aggregate on account to Jai Johar for carrying out the agreed corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities”….

The police claim Pawan is missing but the man himself, on October 20, told a news conference in Jagdalpur that he was innocent and that his NGO was working for tribal welfare.

He claimed that Rs 4 crore was still lying unspent in the NGO’s account and that Jai Johar had planted five million saplings, worth Rs 5 crore, bought from Suraj Nursery. But the police say the nursery doesn’t exist and there’s no record of where the saplings were planted.

Instead, officers claim, Pawan has bought a Toyota Fortuner and pays handsome salaries to Jai Johar’s 30-odd employees. Pawan is the president and Narendra the secretary of Jai Johar. Their younger brother Balram, mother Nathia Devi, and driver Vijay Lehre are its directors, the police say.

Infograph: courtesy The Telegraph

Read the full article: Overnight prosperity

Also read: How police are gagging media on naxals

‘Our media only bothers about elite, middle-class’

Who says good journalism isn’t good business?

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