A failure on the part of Railway Police Force has proved to be a nightmare for a father of a 16-year-old autistic son.
Tarun, a child with speech impairment and low vision from Mumbai, had disappeared from near his home in Colaba market, Mumbai. It's been now over 2 months since his father has been looking for him, going by CCTV footage along with the help of the police and locals. But alas, there have been no leads so far.
Tarun's father has now resorted to Change.org to start a petition, that details how Tarun went missing from playing in front of a shop near his home.
There was an election rally buzzing with drum beats and music on October 1st, in which Tarun got pulled along as he was seen dancing to the beats. Eventually he ended up at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) Railway Station.
"My son does not even cross a road by himself, I can’t imagine how scared he must be..CCTV footage showed him crying, begging people for food and water," he said after filing a police complaint.
After two days, he was informed that Tarun was spotted in Panvel Railway Station, which is about 45 kms from CST. "Tarun had been wandering there for two whole days in-front of Railway Police authorities and none of them tried to help him!"
Following more shocking news, the petition states that a RPF officer got irritated with Tarun constantly asking for water and made him board a train that was headed to Goa. Taking a jibe at the RPF personnel, he said, "How could a police officer be so insensitive? Instead of notifying ChildLine about a lost child, he sent my helpless son away!"
Helpless and having exhausted all means of finding his son, he has now started a petition to the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Women & Child Development & the Maharashtra Police Department to launch a high-priority search for Tarun.
Taking a note of the helplessness of a father, who now constantly lives in a fear of not knowing where his son is, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted out the petition saying, "Terribly sad to learn that Tarun, an autistic young boy, has been missing for the past 70 days. Let us help find him by sharing this
@Change petition. In case anyone has any relevant information, do contact Tarun’s father, Vinod Gupta, via the petition!"
Terribly sad to learn that Tarun, an autistic young boy, has been missing for the past 70 days. Let us help find him by sharing this @Change petition: https://t.co/AI7rAsO7bz. In case anyone has any relevant information, do contact Tarun’s father, Vinod Gupta, via the petition!
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) December 10, 2019
However, the matter was also picked up on December 3 during the Question Hour of the Lok Sabha, where Congress MP Supriya Shule requested the Centre to urgently look into the case and to take steps to ensure his safe return to his family.
Although news reports say that the RPF has initiated an inquiry against its officer for putting Tarun's life in danger, but the apprehension remains, "What we need is sensitivity training for RPF personnel on handling cases involving special needs individuals, especially children."