College dropout flees home after a year of pretending to study for HSC exams

The 18-year-old got nervous that his lie would be exposed during the exams

A teenager who kept his family in the dark for a year after failing his Std XI exams ran away from home fearing his secret would be exposed during the upcoming HSC exams. Cops found him a fortnight later in Hyderabad, where he had started working at a sweet shop so he could pay his father back for the lost tuition fees.

18-year-old Arif Khan (name changed) is a resident of Bandra (east) and studied at a local college. As the only child in the family, he was pampered by his parents. But when he failed the Std XI exams last year, he couldn’t face them. Instead, he played out an elaborate ruse through the year, pretending to attend Std XII. Arif didn’t even object when his father gave him R20,000 to enrol in a tuition class. The entire year, he would leave home and stay out late enough to convince his parents he was at class.

A police officer from Nirmal Nagar police station said, “He had a plan; he thought he would lie the whole year and then appear for the exams privately and pass them, so his parents wouldn’t scold him. He was very sure and discussed the plan with his friends.”

The officer added, “His father is a small-time businessman and his mother is a housewife. As the only child, he was pampered a lot. He even took the money his father gave for tuition fees.”

It went smoothly enough till February. Arif frittered away all the money on fun and frolic and his family never suspected a thing. Then his father asked to see his hall ticket for the HSC exams. “Khan got scared and fumbled, and his father got suspicious. Khan said he hadn’t been given the hall ticket yet but would receive it that day. Saying that, he left home on February 14, and never returned,” said a cop.

The next day a missing complaint was registered at the police station and it was investigated by cops — ASI Shantinath Dhokle and Constable Narendra Palkar.

Meanwhile, the teenage runaway went to Hyderabad, where he found work at a sweet shop. His plan was to earn enough money to return the Rs 20,000 to his father, and study and clear the exams simultaneously. He kept in touch with his friends and told them about his plan as well. The cops were keeping track of his mobile location and Call Detail Records (CDR), and immediately asked his friends what they knew.

A fortnight after he went missing, the police found Arif and he was brought back to Mumbai on February 29. Arif’s family refused to speak with mid-day, but a police officer said, “During questioning, he told us he wanted to repay the amount he took from his father and also complete the Std XII exams before returning home.”

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