Dutch national robbed and stranded in Puri returns to his country, accused driver held

Puri: Days after a stranded elderly man from Netherlands sought the Odisha government’s help to return to his country after he was robbed of all cash by a cab driver in the pilgrim town of Puri, his wait finally ended with the arrest of the accused and arrangements made by the district administration for his journey to Nagpur from where his flight ticket to Netherlands was scheduled for March 15.

The accused driver, identified as Sagar Mallick, was nabbed by a team of Puri Police from outside the State. He was arrested and forwarded to court after the victim Anthony Von Arkel (72) was made to undergo the Test Identification Parade.

Following the arrest, the district administration made arrangements for Anthony’s return following which a team of Tourism and Sports officials accompanied him for the flight from Bhubaneswar to Nagpur today.

Anthony was stranded for nearly two months in Puri after he was looted of all money. Not just that, he was even hoodwinked by the accused into landing up in Delhi instead of Mumbai on the pretext of reclaiming his lost items.  In his appeal to the government, Anthony stated that while his tickets to Nagpur-Qatar-Netherlands has been done for March 15, he has no money to go to Nagpur from Puri.

As per reports, Anthony landed in Bhubaneswar for an Odisha tour on December 18. He then hired a cab and toured Jajpur, Taptapani, Gopalpur and Chilika before arriving at Puri on January 9. The next day, as he needed cash and had to convert the foreign currency, he booked a cab bearing number OD-02-BU-8723 and went to Bhubaneswar. After getting the foreign exchange worth Rs 3.87 lakh done, he took the same cab to visit Bhitarkanika and Similipal. However, when they were near Chandbali, Anthony got down to relieve himself. To his utter shock, he found the bag containing cash empty when he returned.

The accused had then assured to help him and made him stay at a relatives’ house in a slum in Bhubaneswar and then taken him to his two-storey house in Puri’s Baliapanda area. He had told Anthony that he had received a call from Mumbai to reclaim the missing cash. Mallick then made Anthony board a train to Delhi by assuring him  that he was in the next coach but then fled the scene. When Anthony reached Delhi instead of Mumbai and could not find the driver anywhere, he was helped by some Sena Bahini youths and came to Puri via the same train.

Upon reaching, he reached out to police and filed a complaint after which the accused driver’s house was searched. Not just cash, but Anthony’s diamond ring and camera too were missing.

Meanwhile, Anthony had been initially put up in a shelter home for street beggars but the district administration had then made arrangements for his accommodation at Panthanivas acting on his complaint at Baliapanda and Town police stations.

While social activists have demanded safe return of Anthony back to his home country, the tendency of local miscreants taking advantage of vulnerability of foreign nationals has tarnished the image of tourism in Odisha.

Recounting his experience, Anthony said India’s tourism gets a bad name for stray acts by such miscreants. “India is a nice country and so are the people here. But the country’s image gets soiled due to some people like these. I am thankful for the help extended by the administration and arrangements made for my return. I shall visit Indian again soon,” he said.


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