Charan Kumar a 13-year-old boy, who was kidnapped from the central bus stand in Bangalore in September 2008, was returned to his guardians on Thursday by the people who had confined him against his wishes.
His abductors had put him to work at a screen-printing unit at A.K. Colony in the Periyarnagar area of Bangalore, said Charan speaking to the media late on Thursday evening.
Charan said that throughout his captivity he managed to remember his grandmother’s mobile phone number and waited for an opportunity to call her and tell her where he was. He tried to unsuccessfully call her once during the early days of his confinement from a PCO.
Around two months ago, he gained the sympathy of a woman who came to the printing unit and managed to make a call to his grandmother from her phone. But all he could manage to say was “hello” before his employer, a man Charan identified as Jairaj, caught him in the act and snatched the phone away.
He decided to bide his time for the next opportunity. While he waited for the right time to make the call, he decided to obediently perform all the menial tasks assigned to him at the printing unit and at the house of the person who had employed him. “I did not want them to get angry with me or get suspicious, so I never disobeyed them,” he told The Hindu.
The next opportunity presented itself on Monday night. He managed to slip out of his owner’s house and make a call from a PCO and tell his grandmother about his location. His grandmother immediately informed the Dakshina Kannada Child Welfare Committee who contacted the Bangalore CWC and the police.
The police and the Bangalore CWC started scouring the Periyarnagar area for the boy. Charan told The Hindu that the search operations by the police sent his employers into panic mode.
“They were very scared and kept asking if I gave anybody the exact address of the printing unit which was attached to their house,” he said.
Meanwhile, he got another opportunity to call his grandmother on Wednesday night. This time Jairaj snatched the phone away and spoke to Charan’s grandmother, K. Saroja. She told him that she knew where his unit was and would complain to the police if the boy was not sent back. Jairaj put Charan on a bus to Mangalore the same night.
Nearly two years ago Charan’s father deserted him and his mother because she suffered from an unstable mental condition. Charan and his mother came back to live with his grandmother at Kabettu in Karkala taluk of Udupi district. Unable to bear the estrangement, Charan’s mother went to Bangalore along with him to search for his father.
When they reached the bus stop she left Charan alone to use the women’s room. Charan said that as he was waiting for his mother to return a man came up to him and told him that his mother had abandoned him. The man took him along with him and put him to work at a tea shop in Shivajinagar and later shifted him to the printing unit. He never saw the man again. And luckily for him, Charan said that he was never once beaten or abused by anybody during the entire period. The local CWC had found him to be in good mental and physical health.
CWC member Geo D’Silva said: “Of course the persons behind this illegal trafficking should be brought to book. But now it is the job of the police. Our concern now is to re-unite Charan with his elder sister who lives with his father in Bangalore.”