It was a normal day except I was caught by traffic police in the morning for jumping a wrong signal which I didn’t anticipate. Rest of the day went well but evening gave me a lifetime experience. I was coming back from office (Baner) on my FZ bike. At Balewadi high street, I felt something wrong with front tyre of my bike. I thought that there might be a puncture. I rode my bike at the slowest possible speed for next 1-2 kms till I found a Puncture Shop. He measured the air pressure in the tyre. It was less than usual but not fully drained. He started checking for puncture and soon he found a sharp glass at one place. He started searching more. I was counting. It went on to 3,4,5. I immediately stopped him and asked for total number of punctures. But he replied that once he fixed all existing punctures then only could he tell whether my tyre was alright or had few more punctures. I warned him, “Few scams and frauds are going on in Puncture Shops of nearby areas. So don’t play these cheap tricks on me”. He convinced me with one sentence, “I have been running this shop for 20 years, why would I do this?”
With some tricks he manipulated me for every next Puncture and asked, “For how long have you been driving, Sir?” Now I asked him to replace the tyre. He replied,” Don’t worry! your tyre will be fine after fixing all the punctures and after 60 km of run, it would be like a new tyre”. He ended up with 18 punctures and a whopping Rs 1800 bill. I bargained and finally paid Rs 1440 (Rs 80 per Puncture) via paytm. For time being, I believed in him and came to my room.
I narrated the whole story to my roommates. One of them already knew a friend of friends who was also cheated like this. On top of this, he found a blog post about the similar incidence that happened in 2012 with same Puncture Shop. I was totally dumbstruck and felt really bad and cheated. In our well educated and civilised culture, we are taught to somehow believe a poor as poor, and hence, we never argue with them on petty things on a belief that one poor cannot build a castle overnight with petty gains. But a feeling of being cheated always ridicules oneself and one cannot take it for granted.
Friends compelled me to complain about this to the police. Initially I was little hesitating. But after finishing my dinner, I gave it a thought with calm mind and decided to file an FIR. I filed an online FIR in the Chaturshrungi police station, Pune. Also in the morning, I notified this incidence to PunePoliceCity channel on Twitter.
My friends insisted me to visit the nearest police station. So in the morning, I went to the nearest police chowki to Baner Road which was closed. So I called a helpline number on which a sensible police woman listened to me very carefully and gave me the phone number of an Assistant Police Inspector (API officer). His name was Khsir Sagar. I came to meet him in Chaturshrungi police chowki. I told everything that happened to me to his subordinates as he was not there because of health issues. The two police persons went on to the puncture shop where search became easy as I paid him via paytm. While I was waiting in the police station I clicked some pictures and got inspired to write and share this story.
After waiting for 2 hours, two angry policemen came with the puncture cheater. I could see a huge fear on his face. One policeman interrogated him. One of his answers made the policeman very angry and he was instantly beaten for that with a police tool. After some time Mr. Kshirsagar, Assistant Police Inspector came and asked me about the full incident. He also asked me “Did you call madam in the morning?”. I was surprised about with whom did I talk in the morning. I was oohed for more than a minute after I got to know, “The lady I talked with in the morning was the ACP of this zone“. API Kshirsagar was in no mood to leave that cheater. He told her subordinates to file a charge under IPC section 427 (Whoever commits mischief and thereby causes loss or damage to the amount of fifty rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.)
An experienced subordinate calmed the officer and told him to leave the matter. He also asked me if I want to file a paper complaint and I might have to visit the court for that. Now I hesitated and told them, “I just want that they should not repeat the same with anyone else and I want compensation for my damages “. For this officer replied, ” We will cancel his license or will close his shop”.
The criminal called the shop owner. But he didn’t show up. Police man filed a written FIR and ended the case with a warning to the cheater. And on top of this, I got my compensation that was more than what I was looted for.
It was not about Rs 1440 only. It was about cheating people and their belief again and again. I was looking for a strict action towards this incidence. And since someone had to raise a voice, I called myself, “why not me?” Kudos to Police for their remarkable work and immediate actions. Special thanks to the ACP Smt Vaishali V. Jadhav Mane whom I called in the morning and API Kshirsagar. And above all, this incidence changed my mindset towards the work culture of police in our country.