The legendary taxidermist Edwin Jobert Van Ingen, a Dutch who lived in Mysore for the past 62 years and died recently, is said to have lodged a Police complaint against his adopted son Michael Eshwar a day before he passed away, saying that Eshwar had usurped his landed property by creating fake documents and had held him in house arrest illegally.

The impressive bungalow in front of the Karnataka Police Academy, belonged to Ingen. Its original name was Bismal Munti. Several acres of vacant land around the bungalow served as a garden. He also owned estates worth Rs. 25 crore in Manandawadi of Kerala. Since most of his relatives had died, there was no one to take care of the properties in his old age.

About five years ago, he had deputed one Michael Floyd Eshwar, son of B.S. Eshwar of Bangalore. Floyd Eshwar also functioned as a middleman in the property dealings undertaken by Van Ingen, it is said. A large portion of land near the bungalow had already been sold, on which a massive shopping mall is being constructed.

During these transactions, Eshwar is said to have retained some original documents with himself, forged the signatures and attempted to get them transferred to his name, according to the allegation made by Van Ingen in his Police complaint on March 11.

Though Van Ingen came to know at a later stage that Eshwar was cheating him and making money by selling his property, Van Ingen says he was prevented from contacted anybody outside. He is also said to have threatened an aged Van Ingen from complaining against him.

Under the pretext of renovating the old bungalow, Van Ingen was made to stay in an out-house behind the main bungalow, it is alleged. On Mar. 3, Van Ingen wrote a complaint letter and sent it to the Nazarbad Police Station.

In the letter, Ingen has complained that Eshwar had obtained signatures on documents (property gift deeds) stating that he was the adopted son of Ingen and the properties were given to Eshwar as gifts.

Inspector G.N. Mohan, who registered a case in this regard, conducted a preliminary investigation and filed an FIR on March 11. Meanwhile, Eshwar is absconding.

While investigations are on into the properties held by Ingen, there are also rumours about the government acquiring the property.

Michael Eshwar accuses Van Ingen’s PA

Michael Eshwar, who is absconding, contacted Star of Mysore from an undisclosed location and stated that a few people with vested interest were trying to harass him and cheat him out of what was rightfully his.

Speaking of the FIR that was filed on March 11 by Ingen who died a day later at the age of 101, Michael asked, “I have been living with him in his house since 2005. Then how come a day before he died, he suddenly felt like lodging a complaint against me; that too when I was not there and also by sending it through one of the house helps?”

Passport for Van Ingen

He then pointed out that the house helps were acting in connivance with certain others to get some monies out of this. He named three people — Van Ingen’s personal assistant Marina Myne, driver Ayub Khan and one Ajith Lobo of Mangalore.

Michael said that Ajith Lobo had come to help Van Ingen recently to renew his passport. When SOM asked why Van Ingen would need a passport at this age, he said that Van Ingen was a British Citizen and a British Passport holder so he had to renew his passport if he had to stay in India.

Michael meets Van Ingen

Michael said he first met Van Ingen in late 2004 when he wanted to sell the factory property next to his house. “I helped him get a buyer and the property was sold for Rs. 3 crore, out of which Rs. 2 crore went to Van Ingen and Rs. 1 crore to his nephew Michael Van Ingen. After this, Van Ingen became very close to me and in 2005, suggested that I buy his house Bismal Munti on Hyder Ali road in Nazarbad. And so, I made a sale deed wherein I bought the house for Rs. 75 lakh along with the condition that he will continue to live in that house till his death. I have been living in that house with him since 2005. I have the khata and tax-paid receipts for this property.”

Did you put him in a shed?

When SOM asked him whether the reports that he threw Van Ingen out of the house and put him in a small shed, Michael vehemently denied it and said Van Ingen had always lived in the out-house. “It was his parents who used to live in the main house. I never threw him out or ill-treated him. After all, he was kind enough to adopt me,” he explained.

Was it forced adoption?

When asked if he forced Van Ingen to adopt him by threatening him, Michael said, “If I threatened him, he could have told the same house-helps through whom he had filed an FIR now, back in 2006 itself. The truth is, after I bought the house, Van Ingen himself suggested that since he had so much property and nobody to inherit it and since he had grown fond of me, he would adopt me to avoid property disputes after his death. In fact, my adoption was done in front of the Sub-Registrar of Mysore in his office, along with my mother who is still alive. I also converted from Catholic to a Protestant as my adopted father was a Protestant.”

Is the adoption legal?

When asked if his adoption was legal, as anybody above the age of 40 cannot be adopted, Michael said this does not apply for Christians.

“I helped him sell

Kerala estate”

When SOM asked Michael if he had fudged documents to take over the house and more importantly, the vast Van Ingen estate in Kerala, Michael said, “Before he adopted me, he had told me that he would like to sell part of the 254-acre estate. I helped him sell 33 acres to one Dr. Basheer for Rs. 81 lakh. The rest of 221 acres, he said, he would gift to me as anyway he could not manage it.”

Michael also said that reports in newspapers stating that the coffee estate was gifted to Van Ingen by the Maharaja of Mysore was wrong and said that it was actually Van Ingen’s self-acquired property.

Where did the money go?

When asked what Van Ingen did with the Rs. 2 crore he got from the sale of the four-acre factory land sale, Rs. 81 lakh from the estate sale and Rs. 75 lakh from Michael paid for Van Ingen’s house, Michael replied that we should ask that question to Van Ingen’s Personal Assistant Marina Myne.

Michael then added by saying that Marina was working in the Van Ingen factory and after the factory was closed, she became his personal assistant and has been so for over the past 25 years.

“May be she was expecting that Van Ingen would give her some property for her long service. But since he adopted me and I paid for the property that I bought from him even before he adopted me, she probably feels she did not get her due and is now disgruntled and trying to get her pound of the flesh,” said Michael.

When SOM asked Michael why he did not handle his adopted father’s finances, he replied, “Van Ingen was very independent that way.”

But when asked why a man who trusted him enough to adopt him, did not allow him to handle finances, Michael said Van Ingen was very finicky that way and moreover, Marina had been handling his finances for many years. So he did not want to interfere.

He then added saying, a group of people are looking for a pay-out and they will not get it as he will have his day in court.

While Michael Eshwar seems confident about his rights, the Police too seem confident about the proof and documentation they are collecting.

Sources informed SOM that information is being collected about large scale felling of timber in the Kerala estate and it's illegal sale. They also informed that documentation is being prepared and proof collected for illegal sale of antiques and stuffed animals from the Van Ingen property.

Charges filed against Michael Eshwar

For the time being, charges against Michael stay, said Inspector G.N. Mohan of Nazarbad Police Station and added that the charges are under IPC Sections 403: Dishonest misappropriation of property; 409: Criminal breach of trust by agents; 420: Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property and 464: Making false documents.

Courtesy : Star Of Mysore