Teen loses beloved bag during school trip in London, comes to know on return to India that it's been found and sent back but the Airport Parcel Sorting Office here has seized it citing illegality
Anshika Mangal with her classmates during her school trip in London
It's a 13-year-old girl's bag, filled with her favourite clothes, school ID, a debit card and some cash, one that she lost in a foreign country and returned with a heavy heart, as all her treasured belongings were gone. Good news: it's been found and returned; bad news: the Airport Parcel Sorting Office (APSO) here has refused to hand it over to her, saying it arrived in India illegally, and hence, has been seized.
This is the story of Malad's Ryan International School student Anshika Mangal, who can't wrap her head around the alleged illegality surrounding her harmless bag, wondering if she will ever get her precious possessions back.
The Std VII student, who went to London on July 17 on an educational trip with her classmates and teachers to take part in an English Literature exam, found herself in a fix on the third day of her visit.
After visiting an art museum in Waterloo, she took a train to Thames. Only after she reached her hostel did she realise that she had forgotten her bag having her clothes, a debit card, her school ID card and cash in the train.
Anshika with her parents
"That incident spoiled my entire trip. I cried a lot because the bag had my clothes as well as money for the trip, which I had saved up myself," said Anshika, who was helped by her friends and teachers the rest of the trip.
"As I was preparing to return home, I found out the bag had been found and would be couriered to my father. But it's been over a month now and I have been desperately waiting to get it back, but the APSO has refused to send it over."
Her father Aashish coordinated with the Waterloo police and Thames Valley School to get the bag back. He alleged that officials have been refusing to hand it over, saying it entered the country through the hawala route.
"My daughter's really attached to her things. I sent my employee to the office at the domestic airport on September 9. I was shocked to find out that an official said nothing from the bag would be given back," said Aashish, who works in a pharmaceutical company.
Hawala or harassment?
"The allegations levelled against us are wrong. We haven't tagged this parcel as a 'hawala transaction'. However, it entered the country illegally; in the declaration form, the receiver only mentioned about the bag containing gifts and clothes, not money. Import and export of more than Rs 5,000 is not allowed, and even in an emergency, one needs to take prior permission from the RBI. For now, we have seized the parcel, it will not be given back to the receiver as per rules," said an official from APSO, Vile Parle East.
Aashish, however, slammed the APSO and said, "It's not a normal parcel, it's a girl's lost bag. Also, I was not asked to fill any declaration form; the Thames Valley School sent them a letter giving details about the parcel."
Rs 8,910 Amount in Indian currency in Anshika's bag
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