After a 39-year-old schoolteacher could not find his bike at the spot where he had parked it, he concluded it had been stolen and approached the police. What he hardly expected to learn was that the ‘thief’ was the BMC.
Elias Martin Coelho was stunned when police investigations revealed that the bike, which he had parked outside Grant Road station, had ended up in a BMC dump yard. Worse, the BMC is now demanding hard cash to return the misplaced motorcycle.
On August 21, Coelho, a Vasai resident who is a teacher in St Mary’s ICSE school in Mazgaon, registered an FIR at the Gamdevi police station saying his bike had been stolen from the parking area on the west side outside Grant Road railway station.
“There were a lot of bikes parked there, but only my bike was stolen,” Coelho said. “I looked for the bike at several places, and even checked with the traffic police, but did not find it. Then I registered an FIR.”
On November 11, the Gamdevi police informed Coelho that his bike had been found at the Lower Parel dump yard. Coelho and Assistant Police Inspector (API) Rafique Patel visited the dump yard, where the in-charge asked them to pay a fee before reclaiming the vehicle.
Coelho and Patel were told to pay the fee at the Andheri dump yard, SEEPZ. The two then rushed to SEEPZ, where they were shocked to hear an employee asking them to pay Rs 5,000 in cash.
The employee also said there would be no receipt. The employee said the deposit money was Rs 3,600 and Rs 100 was the per-day charge.
API Patel tried to reason with the employee, saying it was a theft matter, but the worker did not budge from his position.
“The ATM dump yard employee asked us to pay Rs 5,000, and that too in cash only. We returned as we did not enough money,” Coelho said.
On November 23, the Gamdevi police wrote a letter to BMC officials. API Patel even met a BMC official, but the latter refused to hand over the bike pending payment of the charges.
“I am running from pillar to post, but BMC officials are not helping me,” Coelho said.
Patel said even he, a police officer, was unable to convince BMC officials.
“The BMC officials are giving me no response. We just cannot understand how the two-wheeler reached there (dump yard). The matter is one of theft and BMC officials should understand this,” Patel said.
The other side
BMC public relations officer Vijay Khabale said: “Send the teacher to me. I will look into the matter.”