On October 18, two 15-year-olds from Nashik were found wandering about CST station “wanting to see the city”. On October 15, the railway police found two 10-year-olds who had run away from their Dharavi homes after being scolded by their parents. Nine-year-old Aditya Sathiyaraj spent a large part of the month drifting through Mumbai after his father punished him, but was later rescued from Chunabhatti.
Over the past few weeks, the police have come across several cases in which children have run away from their homes over seemingly trivial reasons that include not wanting to study or wanting to avoid an approaching examination.
“Normally, children who run away come back on their own after realising they cannot sustain themselves beyond a few days. However, there is a possibility a child who is alone and vulnerable might fall into the wrong hands,” said Dattatraya Karale, DCP (zone 4). “Hence, such cases must be tracked down as soon as they are reported. Most are traced as they normally fall short of money and contact relatives or friends within a few days.”
In Aditya’s case, the 9-year-old ran away from his Sion residence, and wandered about “aimlessly for a few days”. He told the police that he stayed with a family that did not allow him to leave the house, but later managed to escape. While the police are not completely convinced by his story, it has definitely aroused their suspicions and they hope to track down the “family” once Aditya is in a position to speak at ease.
A police officer on the condition of anonymity blamed television for the surge in the number of children choosing to run away at the slightest provocation. “Children watch these things in movies and on TV. That’s where they get the idea to run away from,” the officer said.