17-year-old had gone missing in Mumbai; 6 other families claimed him as their son

Eight years ago, Udhayaraj and his wife searched the streets of Mumbai for their mentally challenged son, U. Ganesh (17), who went missing. When they finally traced him to Chennai four months ago, they had to face six other families who also claimed him as their son.

On Tuesday, Mr. Udhayaraj and his wife, Palaniammal, were relieved after DNA tests confirmed their parenthood. Members of Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Chennai, and district child protection officer re-united Ganesh with his parents at Government Children’s Home for Boys at Royapuram.

“We were living on the pavement near Dharavi bus depot in Mumbai. Ganesh wanted to play at the nearby playground and did not return after two hours. We looked for him at various places in Mumbai but could not find him. We had also lodged a complaint with the police,” Mr. Udhayaraj, a plumber, said.

According to CWC members, Ganesh was found in Chennai in 2006 and sent to Arivagam, a home run by the department of social defence for mentally challenged children, at Mayiladuthurai. He ran away from there in 2013 and was rescued by a social worker in Chennai.

“The boy said his name was Gnani. The social worker wanted to help trace his family and took the boy to a reality talk show on a Tamil television channel. He was then sent to Prema Vasam home in Porur. After the episode was telecast, several families claimed Ganesh as their son,” Aspy Joyson, a CWC member, said.

Meanwhile, Udhayaraj was informed about Ganesh by relatives who identified him on the show. “We rushed to Chennai, but were shocked when other families claimed him. I was prepared to undergo any medical test to prove I was his mother. The last four months was a difficult period,” said Ms. Palaniammal, who sells artificial jewellery on local trains in Mumbai.

The family will leave for Mumbai on Wednesday.

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