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Runaway students brought back home

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HAPPY REUNION: Four boys, who were brought back home by the police, with their relatives at the Pallikaranai Police Station on Saturday.
HAPPY REUNION: Four boys, who were brought back home by the police, with their relatives at the Pallikaranai Police Station on Saturday.

Special Correspondent

They were working at a restaurant in Tirupati

TAMBARAM: Four school students from Pallikaranai, who ran away from their homes two months ago, were brought back by the police on Saturday.

The students left their homes in Vijayanagaram near Medavakkam in October, fearing their parents and teachers would pull them up as they had stayed away from school for more than a month.

On Saturday, the Pallikaranai Police Station witnessed emotional scenes of re-union as the parents of the four boys could not control themselves, but their sons remained unrepentant and unapologetic.

The return of the boys also brings to an end, an intense search launched by the Pallikaranai police, who toured several places of southern Tamil Nadu, including Ramanathapuram and Madurai, before locating the boys in Tirupati on Friday night. They were working at a restaurant there.

P. Arul Raj and J. Santhosh Kumar were Standard X students at Pallikaranai Government Higher Secondary School, K. Karthi was a Standard IX student in the same school and S.Gopinath, a Standard X student at CSI Corley Higher Secondary School, East Tambaram. They were all neighbours on Kambar Street, Vijayanagaram, in Medavakkam near Tambaram.

They had left for school on October 17 morning but did not return at their usual time of 9.30 p.m. after tuition classes. Panicked, the parents of all four children complained to the Pallikaranai police. A police team began to search for the boys all over Tamil Nadu and in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

More than 10 days ago, one of the boys had given a few missed calls to his father’s mobile phone.

The call was traced to a mobile booth in Tirupati, but the police were unable to trace them when they visited the town. R.V. Vairavan, Inspector of Police, Pallikaranai, said that a few days ago, two constables from the station - Ravichandran and Palanivelu - were sent to Tirupati again and specifically instructed to search each and every commercial establishment thoroughly. The constables visited a few hundred shops, restaurants, bars attached to liquor shops before locating the boys in one of the popular restaurants there.

At the police station on Saturday morning, the boys told the policemen that during the one month they stayed away from class, they had watched a number of Tamil films .

One of them managed to lay his hands on his mother’s jewellery and pledged them at a pawn shop for Rs.10,000, through they were worth nearly Rs. 50,000. With the cash, they went to Koyambedu and boarded a bus to Tirumala.

After loitering there for more than two days, they came to Tirupati and managed to get a job.

They even received their first month salary of Rs.1,200. The daring attitude of the boys not only shocked their parents, relatives and neighbours, but even the police, who were under pressure since October 17 to trace them. Relatives said they were unaware that the boys had stayed away from school for so long.

They said authorities of the two schools should have informed them over phone or at least through a letter about the prolonged absence of the boys. “We pinned our hopes only on the police to locate our sons and I am glad they had returned,” said Srinivasan, father of Gopinath.

The boys had spent a good amount of money on eating out, buying clothes and a suitcase to carry their belongings. For the first couple of days in Tirumala, they slept on pavements and had bought adequate woollen clothing. During their interaction with the police and relatives, they were brooding, but when left alone, were cheerful.

The parents of all the boys are low-paying jobs or daily wage earners.

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