A week after being rescued from a life of depravity and habitual solvent abuse, a 13-year-old vagabond mysteriously disappeared from a government hospital in central Delhi.
Imran (name changed), who would pick rags at the New Delhi Railway Station, was taken in custody by police and sent to the Salam Balak Trust in Paharganj under the direction of the district child welfare committee in late March.
"He would have stomach cramps and kept complaining about the pain ever since he came to us," said Shambhu Sharma, a social worker attached with the trust.
"We tried medications but the pain wouldn't subside. So I took him for a check-up to the Kalawati Hospital on the morning of March 30."
According to Sharma, the two had to stand in several queues for the check up despite reaching the hospital early. "I had him checked, got a prescription and was standing in a queue outside the dispensary when he started complaining of stomach pain," Sharma said.
Mindful of the rush around them, Sharma said, he asked Imran to bear with him a minute or two, so that he could buy the medicines and head back to the shelter.
"But hearing him complaining, some women in the queue started making a scene - calling me heartless and saying that I should let him sit in the shade. I reluctantly let him go and waited in the queue," he said.
Five minutes had passed when he turned towards the bench where he had last seen Imran sitting - he'd disappeared.