The next time you plan to board an autorickshaw anywhere near the bus terminus or railway stations, make sure you note the registration number of the vehicle. Two students from Kolkata who did not do so, are now stranded in the city after an autorickshaw driver rode off with their luggage containing their original mark sheets and money.

Alik Kumar Mandal, Debrata Sardar and Arif Ahamed of Kolkatta were pursuing their Masters in Geography through distance education with University of Madras. After finishing their course, they came to Chennai for the first time on May 2 to collect their certificates. At 4 a.m. they landed at the Central Railway Station and stepped out to hire a pre-paid autorickshaw.

But as the pre-paid counter was closed, they were approached an autorickshaw driver standing right beside the counter. “He was watching some people gamble and he came when he saw us. We told him that we had to be dropped at Anna Square and he asked us to pay Rs.90,” said Alik speaking to The Hindu.

Both Alik and Arif kept their luggage in the back of the autorickshaw and Debrata kept his on his lap. “We got down at Anna Square and gave him Rs.100. He took it and drove off without giving the balance and our luggage. It had all our original marksheets of class X, XII and our degree. We had also kept some money inside,” said Alik.

Though they shouted, there was no one to help. “We did not know what to do and so returned to the same spot from where we hired the auto. We waited for nearly 12 hours, but could not spot him. Hence we went to the Flower Bazaar police station. But they were helpless and sent us to Periamet police station and there also, we got the same response,” said Alik.

The CCTV cameras near Anna Square police station, did not work too, police officials told Alik. While they had not noted the registration number, they did remember the auto as having a yellow seat and the driver looking young. He was wearing a white check shirt,” said Alik.

As Debrata had some money, they managed to get a hotel room. “We managed to book return tickets for May 7 and we plan to meet the police commissioner on Monday,” said Alik. When contacted, J.K. Tripathy, Chennai City Police Commissioner, was quick to offer help to the boys. “I have told the Triplicane police to help them get their bags back,” said Tripathy

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