How this honest auto driver saved a marriage

A marriage is about to be solemnised. But a squabble breaks out between the bride’s and groom’s families — the former have misplaced a bag containing the girl’s jewellery worth Rs 5 lakh. Things reach a breaking point; the wedding may be called off. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an auto driver appears. He holds in his hands a suitcase with the valuables inside, untouched. There’s a happy ending.

Handshakes all around: Shrikant Yadav was hailed as a hero by the wedding guests. Pic/Satyajit Desai

Sounds like a scene straight out of a Bollywood potboiler? This, in fact, is the synopsis of the real-life story that was played out at a marriage hall in Santacruz yesterday. And auto driver Shrikant Yadav emerged as the hero who saved the day.

Kiran Sharma, a resident of Asalpha village in Ghatkopar (West) was to get married at Sita Sindhu Hall, Santacruz (East). The Sharmas had fixed a car to ferry Kiran from her home till the wedding venue, but the cabbie failed to turn up at the appointed time. Since things were getting late, the family members decided to take an auto rickshaw to reach the marriagehall.

The Sharmas found Yadav’s three-wheeler near their home and left for the venue. Accompanying Kiran were her mother and brother.  The trio was carrying a suitcase holding gold jewellery of the bride and her aunt. It also had other valuables and items of clothing. 

God sent: Tarashankar Sharma, Kiran’s cousin, hugs Shrikant Yadav outside the marriage hall at Santacruz. Pic/Satyajit Desai

They reached the venue around 1.30 pm. The bride and her mother scampered inside and Kiran’s brother followed them after paying Yadav Rs 87 as the fare. They left the suitcase behind. Yadav too failed to notice this.

“Soon I got a passenger who wanted to go to Kurla. But when she entered the auto and spotted the suitcase, she suspected there was a bomb inside. I noticed the bag and remembered the three people I had ferried earlier,” Yadav said.

Meanwhile, at the marriage hall things had taken a turn for the worse. The groom’s relatives were yelling at the bride’s family for failing to keep its promises regarding the jewellery and money. A person present at the venue, on condition of anonymity, said, “The wedding was on the verge of being called off.”

Kiran’s cousin Tarashankar Sharma said, “We went to Vakola police station to get a case registered. I just wanted to die.”
On the other hand, Yadav first dropped off his female passenger at Kurla and then went to Asalpha village in Ghatkopar where he had picked up Kiran and her relatives. But he found no one there.

Yadav then took his friends Zakir Hussain Siddique and Lalji Yadav and went to the marriage hall in Santacruz. Here, some relatives of the bride were anxiously wandering in the area. When Yadav reached the hall with the suitcase, there was a collective gasp of relief.

Yadav was hailed by everyone like a god. Tarashankar said, “He saved the marriage. When I saw him, life returned to me. I will not be able to repay him. But, I am ready to help him in any way I can.”

Local activist Bala Salian escorted Yadav to Vakola police station, where the auto driver was felicitated for his good deed and was also rewarded with some cash. Yadav said, “I am actually honoured by the way they treated me. I haven’t done anything extraordinary; I only did what I was supposed to. I am very happy and proud about it.” 

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