A great story from the Times of India
MUMBAI: The British may have left us six decades ago but fascinating traces of empire continue to pop up in unexpected places. On Tuesday, when an unclaimed locker at the State Bank of India’s head office at Fort was finally opened, the authorities found a gun and a small pile of ammo: an automatic Mauser pistol and five magazines with 261 cartridges.
The locker, registered in the name of Lt A B Greenwood, also had a copy of The Times of India dated September 14, 1923.
Brijesh Singh, deputy commissioner of police (zone-I), said on Wednesday that the bank came across the little haul when it was checking on its unclaimed lockers. On January 27 this year, two carbines and 12 grenades, believed to have been stashed away by Khalistani terrorists, were found in a locker at the SBI’s Bandra branch. The SBI was earlier known as the Imperial Bank. The police believe that the Mauser pistol and the cartridges were placed in safe-keeping before Independence. Seven big cartridges, inscribed with ‘K-10 VIII’, a rod to clean the barrel, a wooden box, some documents and a holster were also in the locker. The Times of India copy has a prominent advertisement from Richardson & Cruddas, the 1858 engineering firm whose nameplate still dominates the factory shed at Byculla. It was nationalised in 1972.
After the general manager of the bank, Tarachand Walve, informed the MRA Marg police about the find, a team of policemen arrived on Tuesday morning to take possession of the goods.
From the documents available DCP Brijesh Singh provided additional details: ‘‘There was a letter from the deputy post master general to Greenwood acknowledging receipt of the two packets found in the locker. There was also a piece of paper which stated that the automatic pistol had been custom made for a Rajah (whose name is not mentioned) and that it cost Rs 300.
“The cartridges cost Rs 200, according to another receipt. The receipt also mentioned that the pistol was a present given to Greenwood,” Singh added.
Unfortunately, there are no personal papers to give us a lead to learning more about Greenwood’s identity or his address. But given that the weapon has lain peacefully in the locker for 83 years, the police have ruled out a possible conspiracy. The ISI has not been blamed.
The image at the top is from here