New Delhi: A decade is a long time for a family to keep up its hopes of seeing the face of a missing child again. More so for families from backward and economically weaker sections of the society, with little means at their disposal to keep up a search for the kids.
Miracles are occasionally known to happen, however, and last month the Delhi Police pulled off a no mean feat when they managed to trace down two boys who had been missing for a decade, and reunited them with their families.
One of the boys is from Nepal, and a Delhi Police head constable even paid for the bus ticket that helped his mother travel to the Indian capital to meet her long-lost son.
Investigations started after the Salaam Baalak Trust — a Delhi-based NGO that supports street and working children in the National Capital Region — filed a missing complaint in February for two boys who had been living with them.
Shahrukh, now 17 and Kailash, who is a little over 17, had been living at the Salaam Baalak Trust for the past 10 years, since after they were separated from their families. They both went missing on 22 February.
A team of officers, comprising sub-inspector Roop Kishore, head constable Mahesh S. Bansod, and constable Ramesh, was formed to trace the boys after an FIR was registered on 23 February at the Civil Lines police station.
During investigations, the police managed to stitch together their past from records found at the NGO, old police files and what the boys themselves told them once they were traced. All this helped them reunite the two with their families.
Shahrukh (then 7) and his younger brother Ashraf, who was 3-years-old then, were abducted by human traffickers from Delhi’s Neb Sarai area in 2010. While Ashraf was recovered within three months, Shahrukh’s whereabouts couldn’t be traced till now.
Kailash is a native of Kailali, Nepal, and went missing from Punjab’s Ludhiana where he used to work as a labourer, with his mother and sister, at the house of a Sikh family. The now 17-year-old had run away from the house after being beaten up by his employer and boarded a train to Delhi in 2011. He had been missing since.
His family had, meanwhile, returned to Nepal, not knowing where and how to find him.
Applauding the efforts of the police team in reuniting the boys with their families, DCP North, Anto Alphonse, said, “Head constable Mahesh, constable Ramesh and the entire team of SHO Civil Lines have done a remarkable job in locating the boys — Shahrukh and Kailash — and reuniting them with their families after a decade.”
The DCP added that reuniting missing children with their families was a priority for them.
“Delhi Police is committed and will make all efforts at tracing such missing children, no matter how difficult the task may seem at first. Reuniting missing children with their families remains top priority for Delhi Police,” he said.
11 years ago, Shahrukh was taken to Bihar
A senior Delhi Police officer told ThePrint that Shahrukh was first taken to Bihar by the traffickers and then to Haridwar, from where he managed to escape to Delhi. On reaching the national capital, he found his way to the Salaam Baalak Trust, where he underwent professional self-defence training.
“During investigation, it was found that he had been at the Salaam Baalak Trust for the past 10 years. We found that Shahrukh was still in touch with some friends he had made during the training course. These friends now live in Nand Nagri and Ghaziabad. From the NGO records it was revealed that he used to live in Delhi’s Khanpur with his family [as a child],” said an officer who didn’t wish to be named.
Finally, on 25 February, Shahrukh was traced to Ghaziabad where he was living with friends and brought back to Delhi.
He was then able to give more details about his past. The police were also looking at old records, to check if a missing complaint had been filed for him before.
“FIR no 191/10 registered at the Neb Sarai PS was found, a complaint by the boy’s father, Aftab. The team matched file photos from the NGO records [with that in the complaint] and because of the resemblance, efforts were made to contact the family. When the police visited his old address, it was found that they had shifted back to their native place — Aligarh. The parents were contacted and called to Delhi,” the officer said. Shahrukh was handed over to the family on 26 February.
Delhi cop pays for mother to travel from Nepal to meet son
The police team traced Kailash to the Dilshad Garden area on 27 February.
On being questioned, Kailash informed the police of how and why he had run away from Ludhiana and also that he belongs to the Darwan district of Nepal — now known as Kailali.
The address that he able to provide in Nepal, however, was incomplete.
Chances of tracing his family in Nepal were bleak. However, head constable Mahesh didn’t give up and along with constable Ramesh started counseling sessions with Kailash for more information on his family. The 46-year-old head constable had been with the Special Cell and used his contacts to trace down the SHO of Kailali PS — Inspector Dinesh Kumar Gautam.
“After consistent efforts of 15-20 days, the family was traced. Mahesh connected the mother and son via WhatsApp video call and asked her to come to Delhi. When she said that she couldn’t afford the travel expenses, Mahesh paid for the bus tickets himself and reunited Kailash with his family. The boy was handed over on 26 March,” the officer said.
Both reunions took place at the Salaam Baalak Trust hall.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)