This is why most towed vehicles in Mumbai get damaged

Feb 24, 2014, 19:08 IST | Saurabh Vaktania

A cinematographer filmed a traffic cop and two workers severely damaging a car while picking it up from Matunga, and posted the footage on Facebook and YouTube

A video showing traffic police and towing operators breaking into a car to release the handbrake for hauling the vehicle has gone viral.

The video, shot by Tandon (below), shows the two towing operators jimmying the car window
The video, shot by Tandon, shows the two towing operators jimmying the car window

Nikhil Tandon, a resident of Malad and a cinematographer by profession, who recorded the video and uploaded it on Facebook and YouTube, said, “A month ago, my car was picked up from Kandivli area by traffic cops.

A cop arrives to help them and tells Tandon to mind his business
A cop arrives to help them and tells Tandon to mind his business

They broke the number plate and bumper of the vehicle, and damaged it completely. This is illegal. A car should be properly towed with a van meant for the purpose.”

Nikhil Tandon
Nikhil Tandon

According to Tandon, on February 18, he had some personal work at Mysore Association Hall, Matunga (East). “After I was done, I stepped outside and saw two towing operators with a long steel strip, trying to break into a car through the window. I asked them to stop, but they did not, and so I decided to record the events on my mobile phone.”

When Tandon turned on the camera, he says the two towing operators ‘asked him to stop recording, as they had permission from a police officer’.

One of them then went on to say to the other that even if the event was filmed, nothing would happen to them. At that point, a traffic head constable got out of the towing van and asked Tandon why he was recording a video, and if he was the car’s owner.

“I told the cop that he was encouraging the towing workers. He then asked me that if the vehicle was not mine, why was I shooting a video,” Tandon said. Tandon kept recording and tried to get a glimpse of the head constable’s name tag, which the latter was hiding.

As more people gathered there, the towing operators got rid of the metal strip, and began efforts to tow the car from the front. The cop, meanwhile, was trying to distract Tandon. The workers finally broke the grill and bumper, and took away the car. Tandon said, “I told them that this was wrong, and they cannot dent the vehicle, but they simply took off.”

He added, “I have posted the video on Facebook and YouTube, as I want people to be aware of such improprieties. I suffered a huge loss in a similar situation. They are actually stealing the car.” The video has been uploaded with the header, ‘Corrupt traffic police and towing operators breaking a car to release the hand brake’.

Cops speak
The towing contractors and helpers don’t care about damaging someone's property, and that too in the presence of a police officer. I’ve seen this before and finally decided something needs to be done about it. The car was not even blocking any traffic; was it necessary to tow it? The rules need to change. Action needs to be taken against them. - Dr Bhushan Kumar Upadhyaya, joint commissioner of police (Traffic)

Our officials are not at fault. We take necessary precaution while towing cars. We have proper permission from our superiors. Jimmying a door with a steel strip is legal, when a car is parked illegally. Sometimes damage takes place, but the money is refunded by the towing operator. Compensation can also be claimed through insurance. This matter has been resolved to my knowledge. - Sujata Patil, senior inspector, Matunga traffic division

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