Theft attempt at Bhikha Behram well


April 26, 2020

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Bombay | Mumbai

Caretaker of SoBo Grade I heritage site raises alarm after spotting signs of break-in and attempt to pry open the donation box.

An unsuccessful theft attempt was made at the heritage Bhikha Behram Well (Parsi Bavdi) near Cross Maidan opposite Central Telegraph Office (CTO) in South Mumbai on Saturday morning. The thieves were apparently aiming to break the donation box placed at Parsi community’s religious site. The box is placed inside the well complex, screwed into one side of a wall. The site has been closed, like most other places of worship, because of the pandemic.

On Saturday at 6.45 am, caretaker Nadar Tangree went to check and clean the well as he has been doing since the lockdown. He realised that there had been an attempt to break open the donation box using large stones and drilling of a hole. Homiar N Vakil, trustee, said, “This looked like a serious attempt to break it. The two heavy stones also indicate that these may be the handiwork of construction workers. It looks like there may be more than one person, at least two, who tried to break the box. We have filed a police complaint at Azad Maidan.”

Vakil added that there is CCTV coverage at the spot, but, “all this is difficult to access during the lockdown, but surveillance will show us what exactly what happened.”

Another trustee Dr Viraf Kapadia stated that the donation box is a safe which is screwed into the wall. “It is very strong and difficult to break open. We understand how strained the police is in these times, but they must pay extra attention to religious sites. These are potential targets for criminals seeking to make capital.”

Significance of the well

This well is one of the city’s oldest sunken sweet water sources and a Grade I heritage structure, holy to the Parsi community. Bhikha Behram had built the well in 1725 to thank the Almighty for sparing his life after the Marathas initially mistook him for a Muslim. It is one of the few Parsi wells in the city which has one entrance for community members and another for non-Parsis.