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AGRA: Satish Chand, a 48-year-old farmer from Hathras district, has been on his bicycle for five months now, looking for his 11-year-old disabled son who suddenly went missing six months ago. With no help from the UP police, whom he had approached as soon as his child had disappeared, he is still on the road.
Chand, who has already been to various places in Delhi and Haryana, and is cycling around Etmadpur near Agra now, said, “We are from Dwarikapur village in Hathras district. On June 24, Godna, my son, left home for school, which is about a kilometre away. He has learning difficulties. When he didn’t come back by evening, I went to inquire at the school and also ask his classmates. Someone told me that he was seen at the Sasni railway station nearby. I hurried there, but Godna was nowhere to be found.”
He added, “I continued looking for him for the next four days and finally reached the police station on June 28. But officials refused to register an FIR or even a missing person’s complaint. On my repeated requests, they put a stamp on my complaint letter and asked me to leave. I thought I couldn’t wait any longer, so I just took out my bicycle and set off, asking people along the way if they have seen my boy. I have little money, no resources and no influence. Who else will help me?”
Chand has covered more than 1,500 km, from Delhi to Kanpur and Rewari in Haryana, but there’s still no trace of his son. “I have been to hundreds of villages and showed the photograph of my son to thousands of people,” he told TOI on Thursday.
It was in Etmadpur earlier this week that residents of Barhan village spotted a frail man on a cycle, holding aloft the photo of a smiling boy. Tired, hungry and hopeless, it was when people saw him crying that the story reached Agra-based child rights activist Naresh Paras. After listening to Chand’s ordeal, Paras brought the matter to the notice of the UP police through Twitter. By evening, directions were passed by higher officials for necessary action in the matter. Paras has also highlighted Chand’s plight in the chief minister’s Jansunwai portal, an app for registering citizens’ grievances and suggestions.
“People ask me why I have undertaken this futile exercise. They don’t understand the sorrow of a father whose only child is now missing,” Chand said, adding that his 40-year-old wife, Archana, hasn’t given up hope. “Our eldest child, Sarita, died in 2005 due to prolonged illness. After her death, we lost our nine-year-old son, too, in an accident in 2011. We do not know how to live without Godna now.”
Chand has distributed innumerable pamphlets across several districts and collected phone numbers of tea sellers and other shopkeepers around railway stations and bus stops. Somebody, he said, will one day get back to him with news of his son.