It is a Sunday afternoon, and finding the main door of the house open, two-year-old Shaik Amair slips out of the house in Nawabsahab Kunta locality.
Shocked and confused, the toddler cries, inviting the attention of people. They take him to a nearby shop and offered biscuits. They keep him there expecting someone to approach.
Ten minutes later, it is mayhem at Amair’s home when he is found ‘missing’. A quick hunt is launched, with family members running in different directions. Neighbours too joined later, enquiring with the people around.
The search goes on till an announcement at a nearby mosque brings relief. “Ek baccha jo lal color ka kurta aur white pyjama pehna huva hai Star supply company ke pass hai. Jiskisi ka bhi ho aakar lejaye,” the voice appeals.
The distraught family heads to the location and takes custody of the child not before thanking the Good Samaritans who took initiative to make the announcement.
Scores of missing children are reunited with their families every day in Old City thanks to the local mosque committees that help out by making an announcement through the public address system.
The practice that has been in vogue for several years is prevalent in slums where toddlers play along with their elder siblings but get lost in the neighbourhoods.
“It is an age-old practice, which has proved effective time and again,” says Syed Aleemuddin, caretaker of a mosque at Vattepally.
“The children being too young are unable to reveal their house addresses. At times they cannot say their names, so we announce the dress specifications and alert parents,” says a committee member of a mosque at Misrigunj.
People hardly approach police with missing complaints as toddlers are usually found within an hour after they are found missing. Police also encourage people to get the announcement made through the mosques, says an Old City resident.