Scammed dabbawalas threaten strike

Dabbawalas have alleged they suffered financial loss of around Rs 1 crore over a period of one year

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Scammed dabbawalas threaten strike


Short-changed by the very person who was ‘helping’ them streamline their business online, through, Mumbai’s dabbawalas now want to have and manage their own website, and, if things don’t work out in their favour, they have threatened to go on a strike.

Dabbawalas have alleged they suffered financial loss of around Rs 1 crore over a period of one year. The website was launched in 2015 to offer their services through a digital platform.  

Ulhas Muke, President of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust, said, “We had given the charge of maintaining our website to one Subhodh Sangle. However, he started his own website along with his friend Mayur Kanti. They shared our database on their website, misleading customers to believe they were availing our service. Since the majority of us are not well-educated and have limited knowledge of English, we trusted Sangle to maintain our website with honesty.”  

Muke claimed that though the association lodged a complaint against Sangle and Kanti at the Shivaji Park police station two months ago, no action has been taken against them.

“The officer who was helping us in the case has been transferred. We want the same officer to investigate the matter,” added Ulhas.

Subhash Talekar, spokesperson for Mumbai Dabbawala Association, said, “We came to know Sangle was cheating us when he and Kanti had an argument over the distribution of profit they made through their website.

We will be meeting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in a day or two to request him to bring the officer who was investigating our case back. If we don’t get a satisfactory response from him, we will stop our services for a day and protest outside the CM’s bungalow Varsha.”   

Shivaji Park police said they were in the process of collecting the evidences and tracing the money trail.

“Our primary investigation has revealed that Sangle and Kanti would arrange lectures at multinational companies, where members of the dabbawala association would talk about their famed time management skills. However, instead of deposie money in the association’s account, they would pocket it. So far, we have found out about such lectures in at least 30 corporate houses, with the commission reaching around Rs 59 lakh over a period of one and a half years,” said Gangadhar Sonawane, Senior Police Inspector of Shivaji Park Police Station.

“We are scrutinising the account details of the duo and are in the process of tracing the money trail,” Sonawane added.

This is not just the first time that dabbawalas have alleged cheating on the digital platform. In 2011, the Cyber Crime Cell had arrested one Manish Tripathi for allegedly creating a website that provided complete function and business details of Mumbai dabbawalas without permission. Tripathi had even raised foreign funds in the name of dabbawalas and diverted them to his account.

Calling it a learning lesson, Muke said, “I have taken charge of the website now. Henceforth, dabbawalas will be operating the website rather than giving someone else the task. We are taking help from our youngsters, who are studying in schools and colleges, to learn English and master other technical knowledge required for maintaining the website.”

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