Held for Army land scam, Jalnawala has cantonment square named after him
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Khushro Jalnawala arrested on January 26 by Hyderabad police for allegedly selling defence land to an educational trust at 18.5 crore has a square named after him in Pune Cantonment, a rare achievement for a civilian still alive. Most junctions in cantonment are named after either Army officers or civilian leaders who have passed away, like Jawaharlal Nehru, or figures from history, like Alexander the Great.
Jalnawala, who earned the epithet of "owner of a zillion horses", has his name prominently displayed on four boards at the suqare. The whole square is branded in red and white, the official colours of his horses, in contrast to other squares typically painted yellow and black. And in doing that, he appears to have bypassed the PCB nod.
Jalnawala along with Reena Ahlowalia whom police described as his wife, were arrested for allegedly selling an Army plot in Secunderabad Cantonment in Andhra Pradesh to one Tavinder Singh Kohli at Rs 18.5 crore.
Sources said Ahlowalia, the principal of Vibgyor International School, is widow of an Army officer and that Jalnawala's family is settled in Ahmednagar.
At the chowk opposite Race Course, huge mountings on dividers proclaim 'Sponsored by Khushroo Jalnawala' in bold beneath the message, 'Wear a helmet, save your life'. Incidentally, the helmet drive by Pune Sub Area months ago was a much-publicized one.
The square was 'branded' by Jalnawala two days prior to the Southern Command Trophy, the annual racing event at Pune Race Course in September 2012.
Naming a square, or branding, is a long-drawn procedure. The proposals sent to PCB are placed in the general body meeting. They have to get the Local Military Authority nod as well.
While response to a written mail to Southern Command is awaited, Arti Mahajan, PCB vice-president, said, "As per procedure, proposals to name squares or erect statues, or beautification are referred to the general body (GB) of PCB. This particular case has never been referred to GB."
Interestingly, a sources narrated a tale doing the rounds of the racing circle. "It is heard that there was a proposal to name seven small roads in the cantonment after him."
A cantonment official described Jalnawala as a man with a 'zillion' horses. In fact an earlier report in this newspaper in August 2011 mentioned him as owner of 120 horses, many of which are sold to individuals.
Ironically, though the land he tried to allegedly sell is an Army land, Jalnawala and Ahlowalia's connections with the Army brass in the city are not hidden. Sources revealed that Jalnawala is an Army officer's son, and Ahlowalia is widow of an Army officer.
It is learnt her son a captain in the Army is posted in north India. His wedding solemnised at RSI in Pune Camp in October-November 2012 was attended by top officials of Pune Sub Area as well as Southern Command.
Here's another story many in the cantonment talked in whispers about on Friday. "A year ago, Jalnawala had high tea with the Army's top bosses at 6.30 am. The Turf Club staff was specially put to work at 4 am, the earliest ever in the recent past. The meeting was limited to a select few," a source said.