In a shock development, the famed Mumbai Dabbawalas have launched an all-out war to weed out a section of alleged fakes who have infiltrated the fraternity to exploit their name for their own vested interests.
Taking the initiative, the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust (NMTBSCT), registered in 1955, and the Mumbai Jevan Dabe Vahtuk Mandal (MJDVM), registered in 1970, and their authorised organisations - Sant Dnyaneshwar Jevan Dabe Vahatuk Mandal (Mulund), Bhimashankar Jevan Dabe Vahatuk Mandal (Grant Road) and Ghatkopar Jevan Dabe Vahatuk Mandal (Ghatkopar), hit out on Thursday at least a dozen-odd masquerading as the 'asal' (original) Dabbawalas, ostensibly for both glory and gratification.
"Barring these organisations, no other person or entity is authorized to speak for or represent my clients in any manner whatsoever," their lawyer Amol V. Sutrale said in a public notice on Thursday.
The move came as a bombshell on a day when the Mumbai Dabbawalas Association (MDA) - which includes Subhash Gangaram Talekar, one of the persons targeted by NMTBSCT-MJDVM - made the grand announcement that "the Dabbawalas will support the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena" in the October 21 elections.
NMTBSCT official spokesperson Ritesh Shantaram Andre dismissed this outright, terming it as "a unilateral, unauthorized move by a handful of fraudulent elements" which has absolutely no backing of the larger tribe of Mumbai Dabbawalas, and urged the political parties "to beware".
"Luckily, it was only the genuine NMTBSCT office-bearers whom Britain's Prince Charles met in Mumbai in 2003, and invited them to his wedding with Camilla Parker in 2005. We hosted Queen Maxima of The Netherlands in 2018, and we hold the Guinness World Record for our work. We have all the official photographs in our Mumbai headquarters for anybody to verify," NMTBSCT Chairman Ulhas S. Muke told IANS.
He said the NMTBSCT and MDJVM have now decided to expose these fakes who have allegedly been cornering huge chunks of funds received from various quarters for the welfare of the tiffin-carriers "which belongs to the real Dabbawalas toiling in all weathers ferrying tiffin boxes and earning global laurels".
Both Sutrale and Andre pointed out that since the past few years, these suspect persons have been giving false impressions claiming to represent the Dabbawalas. It is also not clear if they are even in the business of supplying tiffin boxes - which tantamounts to a "criminal impersonation".
Taking this a step further, the NMTBSCT and MJDVM will contact YouTube, Google and all other websites and portals to immediately delete the unauthorized videos and content uploaded by these fraudulent persons impersonating as Dabbawalas.
"Even the name 'Mumbai Dabbawala' is owned by us and the Dabbawalas' picture showing them wearing a white loose kurta-pyjama, a Gandhi cap, a black dot on the forehead, carrying the trademark 'dabba' with a metal tiffin box on a black bicycyle. Nobody can copy, misuse or misrepresent these," Andre warned.
Even the figures of the number of working Dabbawalas, their customers and business details, among others, bandied around by these unauthorized persons, are misleading and "we shall reveal the official data shortly", he added.
The NMTBSCT and MJDVM have pointed accusing fingers at Sunil Pandurang Gawande (Ghatkopar), Sharad Gangadhar More and Sandip Shantaram Gaikar (both, Kalyan), Manish Tripathi (Borivali) and Subhash Gangaram Talekar (Byculla, who incidentally is the son of a former office-bearer of NMTBSCT) and Arvind Gangaram Talekar.
Advocate Sutrale's notice has also named the masterminds of the alleged misrepresentations as Pawan G. Agarwal, Piyush Pavan Agarwal (both, Vikhroli), Ananta Baban Talekar (Worli), Bhagaji Sabaji Raundhai and Vitthal Jayram Sawant (both, Andheri), Dashrath Pandharinath Kedari (Jogeshwari), Subodh Sangle (Grant Road), Mayur Kranti and Rushabh Kranti (both, Goregaon).
There is another minor - Tilak Mehta - who runs a business in the name of the Paper N Parcel Courier, but the NMTBSCT and MJDVM made it clear it has no connection with them.
Despite IANS efforts, MDA's Talekar was not available for comments on the matter.
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.