Mumbai: Agripada teens set to get their playground back

Less than a month after mid-day’s report on the police occupying Lal Maidan by parking more than 80 cars there, depriving local teens of their daily cricket and football fix, the police returned 24 cars to the owners; the rest will follow soon

In a win-win for all involved, mid-day’s story on teens in Agripada losing their playground to stolen cars has led to the cars being returned to the owners and the teens beginning to get their playground back.

Cars parked at the Lal Maidan
Cars parked at the Lal Maidan

mid-day had reported on November 21 how more than 80 cars seized by the Agripada Police, after a car theft racket was busted, were parked at Lal Maidan since October, depriving local teenagers of their daily cricket and football fix.

mid-day’s report on November 21
mid-day’s report on November 21

Yesterday, 20-odd days after the report, 24 of the vehicles were handed over to their owners, and the rest will follow soon. After the report was published, the Agripada Police had made an application to release the vehicles in 46th Magist-rate’s court, Sewri.

mid-day’s report on November 21
mid-day’s report on November 21

“We received the order from the honourable court to release 24 of the 84 vehicles that we had recovered in a cheating case and we will soon get orders to release the other vehicles as well.

We will be able to empty out the playground for the kids soon,” said Inspector Raghunath Mahale from Agripada police station. The police received the order yesterday and a ceremony was organised at Lal Maidan to hand over the keys to the owners the same evening.

Happiness all around
“We lost our playground due to the parked cars but we are now happy that they will be finally going. I had been missing playing cricket,” said a 19-year-old boy, who refused to give his name, fearing backlash from the police. “We approached the police quite a few times but they used to tell us they would do something, and then do nothing.

We are grateful to mid-day for publishing the report and goading them into action,” he added. Bharat Ramesh Chiman, whose Toyota Innova had been stolen, said, “I am happy that the kids are getting their playground back and that I am getting my Innova a year after I rented it out to the accused.”

The racket
The police had arrested Irfan Mansuri, who had started a company, Car Kings Tours and Travels, and used to promise car owners that he would give them Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000 a month if they rented out their vehicles to him.

“People used to get taken in by the promise and the lure of easy money and the accused would then tell them that their car was rented to the CBI or some other agency in Delhi.

He would pay them for three-four months and then, without the knowledge of the owner, forge documents and sell the car. We had received nearly 95 complaints saying that their cars had been stolen and sold by Mansuri,” said Senior Inspector Arvind Patil of Agripada police station.

Parking woes
The police had managed to recover around 84 vehicles and had parked them at Lal Maidan because of problems in finding parking space.

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