“After the 50 days that I spent inside the remand home, this was the moment I was waiting for,” said an emotional Zakhir Khan after hugging his grandmother, Zohra.
After being falsely detained as a beggar, the 12-year-old was finally released from the Dongri Remand Home on Friday.
Zakhir claims that he was returning to his Grant Road residence from a friend’s place on February 28, when the Tardeo police picked him up, as a part of their drive to rescue child beggars, initiated with much fanfare by Home Minister R.R. Patil.
On April 13, the Dongri Juvenile Court had deferred Zakhir’s release as “some police formalities were yrt to be completed”.
Recounting his ordeal, a nervous Zakhir said: “They (policemen) picked me up without even telling me why. They said that they only wanted to register my address and telephone number and would later drop me home.”
“Even after giving the details, the policemen ignored my repeated requests to let me go and later brought me here,” he added, pointing to the huge gate of the Dongri Remand Home.
Inside the remand home, Zakhir says he was never ill- treated, but was given a few clothes to wash. “I used to often cry. Only when I was inside the remand home did I realise how important my family was to me.”
Said an elated Zohra, who ran pillar-to-post for her grandson’s release: “I had decided that I would not return home without Zakhir. Now that he has been released, I can’t express how happy I am. If he wouldn’t have been released today, I would have filed a case against the police.”
According to the law, said advocate S. Kunjaraman, the family can still file a case against the police and seek compensation for Zakhir’s illegal confinement.
However, Zohra is more than happy that Zakhir is home and has no plans to pursue the case. “I just want to enroll him into a school again.”
And the first thing that Zakhir plans to do after reaching home: catch up with friends. “I want to meet my family and relatives. I really missed them,” he said.
And the person he missed the most? Zakhir immediately points to his smiling grandmother.