Let There Be Light

Story of a missing girl that will restore your faith in humanity

Ranchi: During elections as media houses work overtime to cover political stories, many stories of human interest fail to make it to the headlines.

But at a time when elections are being contested in India, the world’s largest democracy, on the Hindu-Muslim divide, it becomes must to highlight how even in this highly polarised times, the human bond between Hindus and Muslims, still exists.

Hell broke loose for Ranchi’s Aftab Alam and his family on April 26 when they realized that their teenage daughter had not returned from school.

Thirteen-year-old Eram Kausar is a standard eight student of Carmel School, Samlong, Ranchi. She had been unhappy for some reason, which her family was unable to figure out. Her father presumed that it was because of her school, but Kausar refused to share any details with him.

“She had been unhappy for a few days. But we failed to understand the reason behind it. On April 26, she was down with fever and was still insisting on going to her school. I told her not to go. But she was adamant. So, I told her that I would talk to the principal, to understand the compulsion, which was making her go to school despite the fever. And I did talk to her principal. I am presuming that she might have been reprimanded in school regarding me meeting the principal, which further infuriated her. Understanding that she would have been angry, I went to pick her up from her school, but she somehow gave me a slip,” narrated Aftab while talking to eNewsroom.

He further mentioned, “On realising that she had gone missing, we came to know that she had visited the homes of two of her friends. We rushed to their place only to be told that she had left for her home. She had told her friends that she would be returning back home, but she didn’t.”

Following which her family even lodged an FIR too, but even the police were not being able to trace her. As days turned to weeks the family began losing hope of getting their daughter back. But then as luck would have it.

The lady who saved Kausar from any untoward incident and kept her like her daughter is, Yashoda Devi, a resident of Patratu, Ramgarh. Yashoda who kept Kausar for 17 days, narrated the entire incident, “We have a Public Distribution Shop (PDS), so for ration related works I used to frequently visit Ramgarh block. On that day, I was returning from Ramgarh, on my way back to Patratu, I spotted a girl in her school uniform crying at the Ramgarh bus stop. She was beautiful and alone, so I went to her and asked about her problem. Seeing me, she started to howl, I kept asking her family details and address, but she did not answer. It was already dark, so leaving her behind didn’t seem like a safe option, I took her with myself thinking when she would disclose her father’s name and address, we would have her dropped.”

Going by her instinct, Yashoda, got protective since the start. “When the auto driver asked Eram to take on of the vacant seats in the rear end, I understood that she would be sitting alone with strangers, so I made her sit on my lap throughout the one hour journey. As there was marriage in our family, so I told my relatives that she is the daughter of my friend and would be staying with us for a few days. She even participated in the family functions, though she didn’t dance, she volunteered to video record the celebration. However, most of the time she kept quiet,” Yashoda said.

Her husband Naresh Kumar is a crane operator with Jindal Steel. The couple has two children.

She continued, “After two days, I realized that I if I would sleep with her then perhaps, she would talk. The idea clicked and she told me that her name is Eram and that she is a Muslim. But she still refused to share her father’s name or contact details.”

“In the morning, when I told family members that she is not the daughter of her friend and that I had brought her home from Ramgarh bus stand. Also she is a Muslim. Everyone got angry with me. They believed that the girl’s Muslim identity could create a problem in the future and that I should hand her over to police,” Yashoda mentioned.

On being reprimanded by all, the lady burst into tears. Seeing her rescuer cry, Eram rushed to her and even wiped the tears off her face. “I decided not to hand her over to police as it is not a good idea to let a minor girl go with the police. From then onwards she started living with us like my daughter, but she still refrained from sharing her family details,” recounted Yashoda.

Back in Ranchi, with every passing day, chances of getting Eram back were getting slimmer for her family. “We were losing hope of getting her back.  Police were also not doing enough and making excuses related to election duty to cover up their failure to trace my daughter. When a fortnight passed, I lost hope of her getting back, alive,” rued Aftab.

Luckily, he had posted several posters on the roads and even on social media regarding his missing daughter.

On May 12, Anshu, the younger son of Devi, saw Eram’s picture on Facebook, following which he informed his parents about the post and the phone number that had been given along with her picture.

Soon Yashoda’s family informed Aftab, who reached Patratu immediately to take his daughter back.

Recollecting the love that she got from the family, she said, “When I told them my name and that I am a Muslim, I have heard uncle and aunty talking to each other that, now they had to take even more care of her,” Eram told eNewsroom.

After living with Yashoda and her family for 17 days Eram came back to her family. Not all girls who go missing are lucky like her to get reunited with her family, in India. Every day at least 174 children go missing of which only half are traced. The missing kids often trafficked into sex tourism, child pornography or even to industries, where they are made to work as slaves in a brick kiln, beedi or bangle factories. Not every child is lucky enough to come back like Eram.

Eram’s rescue brings a lot of hope, as Patratu is in the same Ramgarh district, where Alimuddin Ansari had been lynched to death.

“I know, what happened with me and my family is called miracle, and thanks to Yashoda Devi and her family, this miracle for getting my daughter back safely get possible,” added a relieved Aftab.

Shahnawaz Akhtar

is Founder of eNewsroom. He loves doing human interest, political and environment related stories.

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