//NRI duped, assaulted by shopkeepers

NRI duped, assaulted by shopkeepers

The woman, mistaking Rs 1000-notes for Rs 20 ones and Rs 500 notes for Rs 100, had paid much more than she was supposed to and when she went back to reclaim the money, all hell broke loose

A US-based NRI was on Monday duped, abused and assaulted by the shopkeepers at the Indian Craft Mahotsav and Handicrafts Bazaar at Bandra Reclamation grounds.

Asma Farooqi, who lives in Chicago, was shopping in Bandra when she mistakenly handed over Rs-1,000 notes instead of Rs-20 ones and Rs-500 notes for Rs-100 ones at one of the stores.

Farooqi says her mistake may have been out her confusion with the currency notes but the shopkeepers played along and made her shell out more notes.

“For a pair of napkin holders worth Rs 150, I gave two Rs 500 notes and the shopkeeper returned a Rs 50 but asked me for a Rs 1 coin as shagun,” Farooqi told Mumbai Mirror.

Next she handed over two Rs-500 notes for a bag worth Rs 200. Similarly, for Ayurvedic products for Rs 150, she got her Rs 50 back for two Rs-500 notes.

For a bunch of ornate grapes worth Rs 125, she gave two Rs-500 notes but the guy asked me for a twenty-five. So I mistakenly handed over a Rs-1,000 note and a Rs 5 coin. He should have returned one Rs 500 then but he did not,” said Farooqi.

Farooqi said when she returned home, she realised that she started off with Rs 5,000 and was left with almost nothing while her purchases added up to only Rs 625.

Accompanied by her brother Khalid Ayub and armed with all her purchases she had made, Farooqi went back to the shops to reclaim her money.

“The pottery guy, after a long debate, decided to return our money,” said Khalid Ayub, Farooqi’s brother. “The bag vendor flatly refused, saying he had no Rs-500 notes when we could clearly see the two crisp notes in his drawer,” said Farooqi.

The Ayurveda store salespersons also politely refused to acknowledge any such mistake.

“Since no one returned the money, we decided to return the pottery guy the money too,” said Ayub. But when the duo walked towards the pottery store, 12 young men, led by the pottery shopowner Azam Ali, crowded around them, hurled abuses and also got rough with Ayub – a senior citizen.

“The hooligans held both my arms and threatened me with dire consequences,” said Ayub. “They wanted us to cough up money.” Farooqi said that the mob also hurled abuses at her. “If it wasn’t for a concerned passerby to call the cops, things would have got nasty.”

Soon the cops from Bandra police station arrived and took charge of the situation. “We were only suspicious of their motives. The boys got angry and misbehaved,” said a witness. Mohammed Sarfaraz, who had threatened Ayub was taken away by the cops along with a few more boys. “Please forgive us. It won’t happen again,” begged Sarfaraz and Farooqi dropped the charges. The exhibition manager Mohammed Yahya told Mumbai Mirror that he will keep a tight vigil to avoid such situations in future.

“We were not so concerned about the money but we wanted the shopkeepers to learn a lesson for the way they treated us. I never thought I’d be so humiliated in my very own country,” said Farooqi.

http://www.mumbaimirror.com/nmirror/mmpaper.asp?sectid=2&articleid=220200622
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