Mumbai, Jaipur and Palghar police are baffled by runaway teenager's story. After 5 days of hunting, no one knows why acid attack survivor’s son slipped away from Jaipur police and landed up in Bihar
Daulatbi Khan, who runs an NGO, holds up a phone with her son, Aqib's photo. Pics/Nimesh Dave
A Bandra student sent the Mumbai, Palghar and Jaipur police on a merry chase across states for five whole days and even got Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' office involved in hunting him down. Aqib Khan (13) was finally located at his aunt's home in Bihar. However, the events surrounding his disappearance are still a mystery.
The police and his mother, Daulatbi Khan, an acid attack survivor, said the boy appears to be traumatised and hasn't said much since returning.
The Std VI student of a well-known school in Bandra, Aqib, had gone missing on April 13 from a relative's home in Nalasopara (the area is under the jurisdiction of the Palghar police). Daulatbi, who runs an NGO for acid attack survivors, was in hospital for a surgery, when she received a call from an unknown caller saying he had spotted the boy wandering at Churchgate station, and he seemed lost.
The crucial calls
“I got the call around 1.45 pm; the man told me that he had found Aqib at platform number 4. I told him to take him to the government railway police office and stay there since I was in Vile Parle and would take a while to reach. But, a few minutes later, when I called back on the number, the phone was switched off. I realised it was a Jaipur number,” she said.
The next day, Aqib called Daulatbi and told her he was in Hyderabad. “When he was talking to me, I heard someone in the background say, 'cut kar, cut kar' (cut the call). This made me suspicious. I called back. I was told the call has been made from a public phone at Jaipur station. Desperate, I contacted CM Devendra Fadnavis's office. The chief minister's PA, Mr Amol Patankar, was told to look into the matter. After that, we lodged an FIR with the Nalasopara police,” she said.
Daulatbi Khan at her residence
On the teen's trail
Daulatbi said, “Within two days, on Saturday, the police called saying that he was with the Jaipur police; he had been found at the railway station. But, a few hours later, we were told that he had given them the slip after saying he wanted to go to the toilet. For the next two days, the Mumbai police, my family and friends tried locating him by contacting his friends, but in vain. On Tuesday, around 3.30 pm, I got a call from my sister in Bihar that Aqib had reached her home and was in a terrible state. His clothes were dirty and he had eaten in two days.”
When asked how he got there, Aqib said he got down at Patna station and walked four kilometres to reach his aunt's home. “He said that's all he remembered. He appears stressed and hasn't spoken much. We will try and get him to tell us what happened, later,” Daulatbi said.
An officer from Tulinj police station in Nalaspora said, “An FIR under section 363 (kidnapping) is registered. Our team was searching for him in Jaipur after the second call, but on Tuesday, we were told he had reached Bihar. The child has said that he wants to live in Bihar.”
While Patankar was unavailable for comment, sources in the chief minister's office said that they had received Daulatbi's call and after the boy was found and they have verified the events.
Senior inspector of Tulinj police station, Prakash Virajdar, said, “The child, before leaving, had also taken some cash from the house.”