Lost & found: a traumatised Odisha tribal chief

A man’s first ever visit to the city traumatised him so much that he went missing for two days.

Motai Jamuda, a 39- year old tribal chief from Kalinga Nagar, Odisha, had travelled on a train and seen a large metropolis for the first time in his life. He had disappeared on November 20. On Friday, was found and sent safely back to his village, with the help of a priest.

On November 20, Jamuda arrived in Chennai at 2 a.m. on the Dhanbad-Allepey Express. He was accompanying his 19-year old daughter who was coming to the city to work as a babysitter at a home in Ambattur. She had obtained a job through a Christian missionary.

“Jamuda was quite shaken up on the train as that was his first such trip. He was restless and wanted to return to his village,” said Binoy Anthony, an inspector of the railway protection force (RPF) in Chennai. The man in whose house his daughter was supposed to work had accompanied the duo from Odisha, and once in Chennai, calmed Jamuda down and took the father and daughter to his home in an autorickshaw. However, Jamuda became more anxious when he saw the apartment complex,” he added.

Jamuda then had a bath and was given clothes to wear by the family. “To make him feel at home, the family took him for a three-hour walk around the Ambattur area. They then returned to the building, where Jamuda said he would remain near the entrance for a while, as he wanted to use tobacco. The building’s security guard was asked to keep an eye on him,” said Mr. Anthony.

Jamuda then went for a walk and returned. Later, he once again went out but did not return after that. “He was unfamiliar with the local language. The man who brought him to the city began searching for him in all the railway stations as Jamuda had booked his return journey for November 21,” he said.

The man approached the RPF who obtained pictures of the three alighting from the train and walking out of Central Station. A missing complaint was also lodged at the Ambattur police station. The police also launched a search for Jamuda.

In the meantime, on Thursday morning, a police official found Jamuda. He had been badly beaten and looted. Jamuda kept saying the word ‘church’ over and over again and so, the police official took him to Father Xavier, a priest at a church in Thirunindravur. “The priest and another church official knew Oriya and found about Jamuda’s village. With the help of the internet, they contacted the missionary who had got the job for his daughter in Chennai,” he said.

The church then contacted the man who had brought Jamuda to the city. “Fr. Xavier went to Ambattur and returned only after confirming that she was safe there and this was a genuine job in a home. Jamuda told them that he had got drunk and then got into an autorickshaw. After that he could not explain what had happened,” said Mr. Anthony.

The father and daughter were sent back to Odisha on November 23.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 8:01:11 PM |

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