Shaik Amer, a 51-year-old resident of Kalapather, Hyderabad, lost something last month that had been a companion and an asset for him for 14 long years – his bicycle. Losing a job and the hard-earned ration supplies in the floods, Amer had anyway been seeing a difficult time. Adding to his woes, on October 21 evening, when he went to have tea at a place near his residence, an unknown person stole the bicycle, which he had locked carefully.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic set in, Amer was working in a paan shop. After losing his job, Amer started selling ladies’ purses with a friend to make ends meet. During this time, the bicycle which he had bought for Rs 1000 fourteen years ago, helped him immensely. “I used to usually go to work on my friend’s motorcycle, but when he couldn't come, I used to ride on my bicycle for 10 kms or more to sell the products. It was one of my valuable assets,” Amer recalls.
However, that business failed too, pushing Amer into daily wage labour. “It has been a difficult time to run a family. I earned as little as Rs 200 per day, and sometimes nothing. We were facing a severe crisis. During this time, the theft of the bicycle which I relied on for work put me in further distress,” Amer says.
Amer lives in a rented house in Kalapather, and has two children. The recent floods also ruined ration supplies like rice and dal.
After the theft of his bicycle, Amer registered a complaint with the Kamatipura police. “The police were very cooperative. They said that they will look into the theft from their end and asked me to keep an eye out for the bicycle too.”
Following the theft, Amer went to work on foot. “I had given up hope. There are so many thefts happening across the city, that too of things with high value. I did not think that I would ever get back my bicycle.” However, when Amer was returning from work on Saturday, he noticed a newly painted bicycle at a cycle shop in Kamatipura. “I immediately knew that it was my bicycle,” he says.
After making enquiries from the cycle owner, whether he purchased stolen bicycles, Amer closely observed the bicycle. Though the bicycle was painted and given a new look, it still had the dents and other distinct flaws, which Amer could easily identify.
As the cycle owner refused to cooperate further, he called the Kamatipura police station. Constable Jaleel came to Amer’s help and the cycle shop owner revealed that he brought the stolen bicycle for Rs 500. After police intervention, Amer was elated to get his bicycle back. However, he still has to figure out how to make ends meet with his unemployed status even now.
Sharing the incident on their Facebook page, the Hyderabad City Police wrote, “It might be small but it’s everything he had.. (sic)”
The incident has close resemblance to the 1948 classic Italian film Bicycle Thieves, except Amer being fortunate enough to find his stolen bicycle within three days.