No, this is not a junkyard of the wild West but an eyesore that is a common sight at almost every police station in the City.
Most of these vehicles, according to the City police, are either stolen or abandoned. With even the task of identifying their rightful owners being rendered difficult, they languish in the backyards of the police stations, in some cases for decades. The City police claim that it is tough for them to get rid of these vehicles. As legitimate custodians of these vehicles, all they can do is keep vigil over them till they are claimed by owners after the court’s verdict. Metrolife asked the police about the fate of these vehicles. And what people in general think about this junkyard behind every police station.
According to Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) T Suneel Kumar, most of the vehicles recovered are theft vehicles, those involved in an accident and some, even caught transporting illicit liquor.
He points out that culprits often erase numbers on the chassis of stolen vehicles and change the number plates for fear of being traced.Suneel Kumar reasons that there are 104 law and order police stations and 39 traffic police stations across the City. He informs that when a vehicle is seized and a case is registered against the owner, it is the responsibility of the police station, where the case is registered, to take full charge of
the vehicle until the case is over.
He says that it is impossible to dump the vehicle somewhere else. “Sometimes, the case drags on for years together. Most of the time, the owners claim the insurance and don’t bother to recover their vehicle. Insurance companies just don’t bother to know about the fate of the vehicle. Only 40 per cent of the stolen vehicles are recovered,” says Suneel.
He adds that some people also don’t come back to claim their vehicle because they believe it is a bad omen. The police auction the unclaimed vehicles only after they are inspected and cleared by the Motor Vehicle Inspector who also fixes the auction amount.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Safety) M A Saleem says, “More than clearing the vehicles, the responsibility of guarding them from misuse and from being stolen from the police stations is a daunting task. An evaluation is being carried out on the state of these vehicles across police stations in the City before the auction.”
He says that all these seized vehicles are found only in law and order police stations
and never in traffic police stations.
“The vehicles that are caught for some traffic violation are let off as soon as the fine amount is paid and the receipt is handed over to the offender. We never detain any vehicle,” he adds.
But people feel that the vehicles that are under the custody of the police must be better maintained. People say that sometimes they also find these vehicles parked on the pavements thus restricting pedestrian movement.
Sudhir Kopparam, an advertising professional, has noticed that none of the seized vehicles are in a good condition.
“The police stations have an obligation to make sure that the vehicle is maintained in a good condition. I am sure no owner wants to return to find his vehicle rusted and in the worst condition possible,” says Sudhir.
Nelson Philip, the owner of a business house, too shares Sudhir’s view. He feels that police stations treat these vehicles like dirt. He cites an example where the vehicle of one of his friends was in a similar situation.
“When my friend got his car back, he found that the engine was stolen. This is the case at most police stations. These vehicles should be shifted to a place where the owner is assured that his property is safe,” he sums up.