Why I share the missing children’s post on FB

Written By

Mamata Kolte

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My cousin brother’s younger son went missing two years ago. I was sitting at my desk in my cubicle late evening at work when my sister called and broke the news. “Dada’s son is missing since morning”. “How do you know?” I asked. My cousin is a prankster and anyways, this would never happen with us, I thought.  I did not even blink an eye. But her voice seemed serious the second time. “Ganesh dada messaged on the WhatsApp group” she said. This time I sat up in my chair. I asked her if she had contacted our cousin to verify the news, and she said she had done so, and he was not talking normally. I decided to check the authenticity of the news for myself. I took my sis-in law’s number and called her. Her neighbour answered her phone. The information I received was enough to shake me up.

“Niket is missing. He went to school but when Roshani (My Sister-in-Law) went to school to pick up her sons, the younger one did not come out of the school. When she enquired, the teachers said that he had not come to school that day.”

How was that possible, I thought out aloud? I knew that the school was just a few meters from their home and Bhabhi walked both sons to school every day and brought them back as well. She replied that Niket had run off to school even before Bhabhi had locked the house. He had done it so many times before, but reached school every time. I asked if he had been reprimanded or was under some pressure or if someone was bullying him? By then, my Bhabhi took over the phone. She was very frightened and her voice was shaking. She was crying uncontrollably. She told me that she had not reprimanded him and Niket was the kind of a boy that nobody could bully. She fell down sobbing while telling me all this.

Niket, a very smart, intelligent, talkative 11-year-old younger son of my cousin went missing and nobody knew why, how and when. A police complaint was lodged; people started speaking about things that a missing child’s parent would not want to hear.

When people called telling them that they saw a child with the same description as Niket going towards a nearby Kali temple, others started to talk about how on new moon nights, sadhus sacrificed young kids. To their horror, they realised that he had been kidnapped a day before the new moon.

Another such nugget of information was that he had been sighted far away from home with the slum kids. Then the neighbours told them how kids were kidnapped and forced into begging. Then one lead was that he could be in Goa. Some said that there was a racket wherein children were sold to foreigners for some horrific reasons.

You can imagine what the plight of the parents of the missing child could be. Listening to such stories just worsened their suffering. One day when I was talking to my cousin who had a reputation of being “the strong one”,  he broke down. “Please help me. I don’t know if he has eaten or not or how he is. Please find him. Please.” He cried and cried. After around 40 minutes, when he had calmed down, he hung up to go to the police station to check on any possible progress.

Two days went by but nobody was able to find him. Newspapers and local channels were flashing the news 24 hours, but with no consequence. I shared these messages on Facebook and someone initiated a WhatsApp forward with this message. 10 days later, there was still no clue. My bhabhi refused to eat and my brother almost went mad. No one was sleeping and at every ring of the phone, they jumped like they had found their child. All relatives, including me, went to astrologers, numerologists and temples and prayed for Niket. We kept forwarding the messages and posts everyday and were constantly checking the “missing children” forums. Peoples comments and forwards helped. The media got even more involved and the message spread like wild fire. The Home Minister had to get involved. He paid a visit to the familyand promised that he would leave no stone unturned. A reward to find Niket was announced. And then finally one day, he was found, healthy and alive. He was found inside a jungle sitting below a tree in his underwear.

And then finally, one day, he was found, healthy and alive. He was found in a jungle, sitting below a tree, wearing nothing but his underwear.

Narrating details on why and how he went missing, what had happened to him and how he was found would actually make a story for a book but for the readers. A smart 11-year-old was kidnapped, just a few steps away from his home. Horrifying! Isn’t it? More terrifying is that his kidnappers are still on run.

The pressure that the social media built on the authorities is what made the kidnappers free him. Thank God he was safe. The point I want to make here is sharing missing children posts on social media might seem like an idiotic or even fake forward. Even I ignored such messages. But after this incident, I share such posts least once. What happened to Niket was horrible and if me clicking a few buttons can help find a missing child, then I will do it, even at the risk of one such incident being a fake.

 

 

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mamata is an energetic, optimistic person who believes that anyone can do anything if one wants to. She loves to travel, write poems, watch movies, cook, garden and sing. Mamata follows her heart in anything that she does and thus can not do any thing just for the sake of doing it.

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