Seventeen days after being rescued from seven months captivity and torture, a 12-year-old boy was finally sent home to his parents in MP's Burhanpur district on Thursday.
Dheeraj (name changed), who was sold off for Rs 18,000 to a shepherd by his poor parents in Khargone for a year, was the last of the five boys who were rescued from the clutches of two shepherds last year.
The boy was made to gaze and tend sheep during his captivity by the shepherd Hemla.
Sources in the child welfare committee (CWC) at Khargone told HT that the authorities in Burhanpur traced his parents, counselled them and then sent Dheeraj back home.
District women empowerment officer in the women and child development department at Burhanpur confirmed to HT over phone that Dheeraj was handed over to them over a week back and he has been sent to his parents in Dawachiya village, 65 kms from the district headquarters.
"His parents are labourers and had sent him to his maternal uncle at Khargone where he was sold with their consent to the shepherd. We counselled the parents, questioned them whether they can take care of the child. Though they have assured us, our child protection officer will visit them every month to see whether he is being looked after properly,” he said.
All the five children rescued from the clutches of two shepherds, Bhura and Hemla, were brought to Khargone and put at a children’s shelter home on the night of April 16.
Sumit,12, and Amit, 11, who are siblings, were sold by their parents to shepherd Bhura for Rs 35,000 eight months ago while Mohit, 15, who also hails from the same village in Khargone, was sold by his parents for Rs 12,000 to Bhura nearly over a month ago.
Sumit was rescued by police on April 17, while Amit and Mohit had escaped earlier and run 47 km along the rail track from Seoni-Malwa in Hoshangabad district to Harda, where they were finally found by police officials and sent home.
The boys had told police on April 19 that two children--Ramesh and Dheeraj--were still with a shepherd Hemla, an accomplice of Bhura.
Acting on their tip off, police rescued the two children from Timarni village in Harda district from the clutches of Hemla in the wee hours of April 20. Ramesh, 11, and Dheeraj, 12, told police they had been sold to Hemla for Rs 18,000 for a year.
(Names of all minors have been changed)