The events of last Thursday evening, the 4th of July are still vivid in my mind. It wasn't unusual for us to go to the sector-25 market. Popularly known as the Jal Vayu Vihar market we go there whenever our taste buds yearn for that spicy aaloo tikki. While hubby got our eats packed, I got few essential groceries and were headed back to where our car was parked. All this took just about 15 minutes. It was 8:45 pm.
We passed by a couple, clearly disturbed and annoyed at something. We ignored the scene and had just taken a few steps forward when we saw our car's rear side window broken. The glass completely shattered and our two bags gone!! Not believing at first, I kept mumbling in my head 'This couldn't be happening to us'...'This couldn't be happening to us'. We realized that the other couple whom we had just passed had also met with the same fate. Being the victims, a mutual alliance formed between us.
The PCR van was stationed right outside the market and the other couple had already informed them of this shocking (at least to us) incident. Can you imagine, the thieves, presumably a gang had the audacity to pull this off right under their noses!! 10 minutes had passed with no fruitful action on the police's end. The officer, Mr. Sharma, stationed there was casual and asked us few unnecessary questions like "Why did you park your car here?", " You live in sector-56, so are there no good markets between your place and here? What is so special about this market, that made you come here?". What the hell?? I was about to blast off but my patient better half knowing me well nudged me to take it easy. Now, I was mad at him...Humph...
We waited ( I don't know for what?)..I made a few calls home...and then I spotted a watchman right opposite the road, posted outside the community center. Surely he must have seen something!! But when questioned he shrugged us off by saying that he was inside helping some tents being taken out. We didn't believe him but there was nothing much we could do at that point. Suddenly we realized that we hadn't officially reported this theft. Yes, the police officer was there but he was as good as invisible. The other girl (N) dialed 100. The officer listening to this, asked us what would we like to do now? He was getting on my nerves now. As a officer on duty shouldn't he be obligated to help the citizens and inform us the next step or should it be vice versa?? Anyway we told him that we would like to file an FIR (first information report). He first tried to dissuade us, then later asked us to follow him to the Sector-20 police station.
At the police station, firstly we were asked to pen down all the contents of the bags that were stolen. We listed all that we could remember, most importantly my wallet which contained my identity cards - PAN card and driving license, debit card etc was gone!! My husband too had very important documents, most importantly car registration, in his bag. Fortunately, none of us had much cash, neither any laptop (Although both are bags were those big laptop bags, which is why they got the undeserved attention). Next we were asked to write a formal letter in Hindi reporting the incident. Officer Mr. Sharma said that one letter would suffice and he would be filing only one FIR. I argued that we were two unrelated parties and two separate reports should be filed, but he turned a deaf ear to this request/demand!!
Next, to our frustration and further dismay one Mr. Tyagi the filing officer said that the FIR would take time and we could collect it in the morning. Though we had no qualms in waiting, the police argued there were few technicalities which we could not understand. Oh, please do share your technical issues, I thought bitterly. It was 10:05 pm.
At this hour, we could not even get a photocopy of the letter so N took a photograph with her camera. She also slyly took a picture of Mr. Tyagi, who was denying us the FIR, but was noticed. We got to hear a few comments such as, "These days no one trusts the police", "You are like our own daughter, why do you think we don't want to help you", etc. He promised we can take the FIR anytime in the morning. Helpless and totally dependent on them, we drove back to our houses quietly after exchanging numbers with the other couple.
Early next morning, hubby got the FIR from the police station. Next step was to get the car window repaired which surprisingly cost us only Rs 500 so we didn't have to go through the insurance route. I had already got my debit card blocked last night. I had to now apply for the duplicate ID cards. Hubby had to do a few rounds of his bank and the RTO (Regional Transport Office) for his lost documents. He also once again went to the market and spoke to the nearby stall/shopkeeper without any result. All in all, there was much unnecessary running around on Friday as well as half of Saturday.
Few very important lessons were learn due to this episode. Many questions still remain unanswered. The state of society, the level of corruption, the rule of 'the gangs of Noida' was highlighted to us yet again. Just that, this time I am narrating it first hand instead of reading it in the newspapers.
1. However heavy your bag might be, and even if you are stepping out of your car for just 5 min, do either put your bag beneath the car seat or carry it with yourself.
2. Always be vigilant. I know this is hard, especially if you've gone out with your friends or have just gone for a cup of coffee to distress. But do try and be aware of your surroundings.
3. If a mishap does happen. Don't panic. Again, easy to preach. But do try to keep calm and think step by step.
4. Even if a cop is around during such an occurrence, always dial 100. This should be the first thing to do. Register your complaint officially.
5. Think clearly and note down all the things lost/stolen before filing a FIR. Go through the list at least twice. There might be few things that might not be very important but ensure that they are listed.
6. Write your complaint in legible writing and check for spelling mistakes in your name, address and car no. The FIR helps you to re-issue your identity cards etc and the government officials can be quite finicky when it come to documentation.
7. If there are two separate parties involved, insist for two separate FIRs. Insist till they succumb.
8. In case of issuance of duplicate car re-issuance, you need to submit Form 26 along with copy of FIR.
You can get the form from your nearby RTO for Rs. 2/- (that was the price in U.P.).
Check the availabilty of the form online for your respective state. For Delhi, you can download from the below link.
9. Further to point no. 8, if the car is on loan you will need a NOC (No objection certificate) from your bank.
10. For driving license, form can be obtained at the RTO and again a copy of FIR is required to be submitted.
11. Duplicate PAN Card request can be filled online.
PAN Form: https://tin.tin.nsdl.
12. In general practice, carry only one ID card in your wallet.
13. Keep a photocopy of all important documents at home. If possible also scan your docs and keep a copy in digital format too. Also you should always have your passport photographs at hand.
I'll end here at the lucky number thirteen. If anyone of you have had a personal encounter of such sort or know a close friend/family who has suffered the like, please feel free to share your views/opinions. I am here to share your woes and probably, we might even laugh it off in days to come :)