Anwar Raj Guru, a native of Sawantwadi in Mumbai decided to end what he calls “a common man’s ordeal”. He decided to put to fire his own dream bike, a Royal Enfield Thunderbird, after acquittal in a seven-year-old trial that saw his bike impounded allegedly due to forged registration documents.
Anwar faced delays in getting the bike released with the Goa Police and the Transport authorities further taking months to implement the court’s order and finally issue the release documents.
When he got the bike on October 4, he bought a five-year insurance, paid the RTO penalty fees and rode the bike close to the Judicial Magistrate court. The same court had acquitted him of all the charges. Then, he put his bike, which he had purchased on March 19, on flames.
In a video that went viral across Goa, Anwar is seen reaching the spot at 8 pm near the Judicial Magistrate court — which had acquitted him of all charges — splashing petrol on the bike, lighting a matchstick, and then lighting a cigarette while he takes a puff and watches the bike going ablaze.
“I wanted the whole event to be symbolic – A common man’s ordeal. In the beginning, I parked the bike right in front of the court. But since it was evening, there were some vendors and a crowd was buying the Goan bread. It was clear to me that I did not want to hurt anyone. So, I moved the bike a little ahead but still across the court and set it ablaze,” Anwar told The Indian Express. He recalls, he requested a car parked ahead to move, as it was an Enfield which was going to burn.
Later, when the fire marshalls came, they cleared the site and ferried the remnants of the 180-kilo vehicle. He says that Royal Enfield bike was once his only dream!
“My health has deteriorated while waiting for the witnesses to depose even as the case kept dragging,” reports IE, quoting Anwar as saying.
Narrating his ordeal to the Indian Express, he said, “I ensured that I never miss a court hearing. It always came up in every 15 days and I would travel all the way to attend the hearing. The ones who complained and the witnesses in the case kept getting summoned. The witnesses would never appear on time even after repeated summons. I remember once while travelling to attend the date, I met with an accident and then started appearing in crutches.”
“What they saw was a man burning a bike. What I felt was an end to my frustrations,” he asserts.
Anwar, along with an agent, allegedly forged a voter ID card to get the registration of the bike done in Goa, according to the report. The whole case took a new turn on March 19 when an Assistant Motor Vehicles Inspector spotted a discrepancy and alerted his seniors along with the Mamlatdar office. The office then found that Rajguru’s name was missing in the 2009 voter’s list in Goa.
The trial began in 2011 and the acquittal for Anwar and the agent came on May 5, 2018, where his defence lawyers were able to prove the way that the investigation was conducted was faulty.
The court took note of the faulty investigation, where it was pointed that the Mamlatdar court did not scrutinise the records prior to 2006, no statement of the notary recorded. It also said that the entire probe was resting on a Xerox copy of an Elector’s Photo identity card, with no documents verified to probe if it was forged.
On the basis of verification of the records of the year 2009, the court held that the card issued in the year 2006 could not be considered forged and acquitted the two.
Anwar recalls, for him the trial was most difficult as at no stage did the prosecution which levied charges of forgery, ask for the original.
“I had admitted on day one that I had paid Rs 6,000 to the agent for a Goa registration. But there was no intention to cheat. I genuinely regret that decision and then after I admitted that the legal course should have been more practical,” he says.
When prosecution witnesses finally came on the date, I had already lost everything, plus paid an advocate fee and travel expenditure came to Rs 3 lakh, he laments.
While Anwar’s lawyer, Subhash Narvekar admitted the delays, he said that it was a simple probe which should have been done and the case disposed of.
“I could not have rode that bike. It would have been frustrating to see it every day and recollecting the ordeal,” Anwar says, adding he feels lighter now.