A boy, lost and found… yet still lost A rural family was devastated when their son went missing

02, May 2022 | Mohammed Ripon Sheikh

Ever wondered what happens to a family when their child goes missing? Rahima Bibi and Sabrul Sheikh, residents of Ramchandrapur village of Paikar in Birbhum district had never ever had such a thought. Their worst nightmare came true, and their son went missing one day!

The river that flows past the village often reaches their home when it floods in the rainy season, the sounds that the water makes as it gushes though the village is heartbreaking. But Shabrul Sheikh and Rahima Bibi recall they could hardly feel that danger last season as they were dealing with heartbreak over the disappearance of their son Yeas.

CJP’s Grassroots Fellowship Program is a unique initiative aiming to give voice and agency to the young, from among the communities with whom we work closely. These presently include migrant workers, Dalits, Adivasis and forest workers. CJP Fellows report on issues closest to their hearts and home, and are making impactful change every day. We hope to expand this to include far reaching ethnicities, diverse genders, Muslim artisans, sanitation workers and manual scavengers. Our raison d’etre is to dot India’s vast landscape with the committed human rights workers who carry in their hearts, Constitutional values, to transform India into what our nation’s founders dreamt it to be. Please Donate Now to increase the band of CJP Grassroot Fellows.

The couple had brought him up with years of hard work and sacrifice, and dreamt that he would grow up to be an educated, sophisticated and successful young man. They did not want him to experience deprivation. “Yeas will be a great officer when he grows up,” was their motto. However, they were worried about his mischievous ways too. He would often sneak out to play, even if it meant skipping school for the day.

That is what Yeas did on February 5, when Shabrul came to know that his son was missing school, he scolded him soundly. Thirteen-year-old Yeas was enraged. Angry and upset, he ran away from home. The distraught family launched a search for him. The boy was traced and found in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. Yeas’s father Shabrul tried his best to convince his son to come back home. But nothing helped. The family then contacted the local police station to help get the boy home. However, the police officer reportedly told them that the boy was not reported as missing in the “missing diary”.

Rahima and Shabrul then rushed to the local MLA’s office with the village panchayat member to get their boy back. There was nothing wrong with trying, they thought. People assured help but the boy was yet to come back home to his parents. “Yeas was imprisoned in Jalpaiguri for almost two months. He is caged like a parrot,” felt his parents.

Yash Shabrul Sheikh Birth Certificate

According to Yeas’s family, some officers from Birbhum District ChildLine came to their house, but the boy was not brought back. His family asked, “Yeas is in our state but how long does it take to get a boy back? Couldn’t the administration have been able to get Yeas back sooner?”

As a CJP Fellowship holder, I wanted to help the family be united with their beloved child. I contacted everyone I could think of, including Birbhum District Child Protection Unit, Childline Officer and Secretary, Joint Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Child and Women Welfare, State of West Bengal and Siliguri District District Child Protection Unit. I gave them all the details and documents needed. Soon the Child Protection Unit of Birbhum, got into action and Yeas was back home on Monday, April 4!

But where one would think the family will still be celebrating, the reality is that they are spending their days in panic even after getting their son back. The child himself is emotionally devastated. The father is afraid to go to work and the mother wants to be around the boy all the time. This is the reality, even after a rescue, families struggle to get back to normal life. It is yet to be seen how Yeas copes as he grows up. For now the family says they will just take it one day at a time.

This report is part of CJP’s Grassroots Fellowship Program, and has been written by researcher Ripon Sheikh, who is travelling around rural Bengal, tracking and documenting social and cultural movements of indigenous people.

Meet CJP Grassroot Fellow Mohammed Ripon Sheikh

This young man, who has graduated with a B.Sc degree from Burdwan University, loves trivia. Sheikh’s passion to research and seek “unknown information about World History” has earned him many medals and trophies at various University and state-level Quiz championships, and youth festivals. Sheikh is a born orator and a natural community leader. He has the potential to represent his community, state and country at a global level one day. His immediate goal, however, is to find a job so he can support his parents.


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