Mumbai: 'Find my son soon or I will hang myself,' says 16-year-old's father
Life for parents becomes an endless review of CCTV footages of various stations as 60 days since his disappearance, Tarun remains untraceable.
It has been 60 days since 16-year-old Tarun Gupta left his Colaba home one morning to dance in a political rally and did not return home. His parents, Vinod and Asha Gupta have been having sleepless nights ever since. Along with the parents, relatives too are engaged in the specially-abled boy's search since the afternoon of October 1. While a missing person complaint has been registered at MRA Marg police station, he was last seen in Fort area of South Bombay. Ever since then, Vinod has reviewed over five dozen CCTV footages of various railway stations and other locations. "I don't have the energy left to see him begging for food," Vinod said.
"He loves to dance and is very religious. He must have been tempted by the drumbeats from the rally. He must not have felt uncomfortable since most of those in the rally knew him. But after everyone left, he must have gotten confused. He was seen near Pancham Puriwala restaurant in CSMT at 12:48pm on October 1," said Vinod. One of Vinod's friends who went to Panvel in Tarun's search discovered that he was there on October 1, 2 and at 1:20am on October 3. "He was forced to board the parcel bogie of Tutari Express which goes to Sawantwadi," said Vinod, who met Railway Protection Force (RPF) officers at Panvel.
A CCTV camera footage shows Tarun Gupta in a political rally
"My autistic son was at Panvel for two days, during which he only asked RPF officers for water. Tarun's right hand is disabled; he took one bottle of water to drink. I got to know that he asked RPF officers to take him to his mother but no one helped," he said. According to Vinod, an RPF official Monu Tomar asked Tarun to board the Tutari Express's parcel coach.
"My son was forced to board the train. I saw the CCTV footage and asked Tomar why he didn't help my son or hand him to GRP (Government Railway Police), to which he said he was fed up of my son constantly disturbing him," said a sobbing Vinod, who has submitted a complaint against Tomar, who is now facing a departmental probe.
A review of CCTV footages of the train's 18 halts — done with the help of Constable Dhanaji Dhaygude from MRA Marg police — revealed that Tarun got down at Sawantwadi station at 12:30pm on October 3. "He is literally seen begging for food and water," said Vinod. An hour later, he boarded the D-10 coach of Dadar-bound Janshatabdi Express. However, from here the trail went cold.
"Constable Dhaygude noticed an unusual crowd near Tarun's coach at Chiplun station. He zoomed in on the badge of an RPF officer and contacted him. That officer told us that there had been a ruckus because a specially-abled child was sitting on a reserved berth. I believe it was Tarun. The onboard Ticket Collector V Gadekar said that the boy then sat in one corner of the coach," Vinod said.
Vinod, with the help of Indian Railways, contacted all passengers from the D-10 coach. "Some told me he got down at Dadar, while others mentioned different stations," he added. Tarun's mother Asha told mid-day that he has only 20 per cent vision. "His spectacles broke just the day before he left. He can't see anything without his glasses. I have no idea how he is managing," she said.
The political crisis in the state also delayed their search, the parents claim. "Most of the cops would tell me everyone is busy in bandobast. Now that the political crisis is over, I hope they look into the case seriously. However, Constable Dhaygude helped me a lot." "If my son is not traced soon, I will hang myself to death. I am fed up with the system and police machinery," said Vinod, who has also formed two WhatsApp groups. One of the groups has been created by Forum For Autism (FFA) while the second ground is managed by Vinod to coordinate with his friends and family.
Stressed by Tarun's disappearance, his grandfather, Hari Prasad Gupta, too fell ill and had to be hospitalised. "Every day my father asks about him. My father has been admitted to Saifee Hospital," said Vinod. The family's friends, relatives and the FFA are mulling a silent march on December 3, World Disabled day. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone I) Sangramsinh Nishandar told mid-day that the police have been tracking him in three districts but there has been no sign of him.
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