Irked by mother’s scolding, a class 6 student cycled 450 kilometre in four days to meet his father in Lucknow.
The boy, Ritesh (name changed), lives at Sadarpur village with his mother, who runs a laundry service. His father works with a private company in Lucknow.
On August 2, Ritesh had gone to his mother’s shop outside the village. She had scolded him for not bringing food with him and sent him back home to collect the lunch box. He pedalled away on his cycle towards his residence, but then decided to take a turn towards Lucknow to complain about his mother to his father.
When 12-year-old Ritesh did not reach home till late night, his mother approached the local police post and a case of kidnapping was registered at Sector 49 police station. The police circulated Ritesh’s photographs at various police stations across the state. Ritesh’s father rushed to Noida on hearing about his ‘kidnapping’.
Meanwhile, Ritesh continued to cycle towards Lucknow to meet his father. He slept at shops on the roadside, which were closed in the night, used public toilets and fields to perform his ablutions. He ate whatever he could buy with the little money he was carrying. In four days, he reached Lakhimpur Kheri, more than 450 km from his Sadarpur residence on his bicycle. Lucknow is around 150 km away from Lakhimpur. He drank water from the roadside handpumps and sometimes sought free water from the roadside shops that no one denied.
“On August 6, he ran out of money at Lakhimpur and his cycle got punctured. He started begging for money to eat and also get his cycle repaired. The passersby informed a PCR van about a suspicious boy. The police team found him begging and took him to a shelter home, where he disclosed his address and reason behind leaving home,” Patnish Kumar, in-charge of Sector 41 police post, said.
The Lakhimpur police then informed their Noida counterparts and the boy was sent back home the next day.
“During counselling, the boy said that he wanted to meet his father and since he had less money, he decided to ride on his cycle to Lucknow. He said he kept cycling despite rains and scorching heat. He said he was irked by his mother’s taunts and wanted to complain to his father. He was so high on emotion that he did what seems impossible for a boy of his age,” a childline officer said.
Ritesh told the officer that he did not have trouble in cycling as he loved to pedal. Also he said that he deliberately cycled when it rained in a bid to get some relief from the scorching heat, which helped him to pedal.
“On an average, he pedaled more than 100-kilometre each day. He took a halt for half an hour sometimes twice or thrice a day and then continued cycling. He reached Lakhimpur via Amroha, Moradabad, Rampur and Pilibhit route. He was short of 150 kms from Lucknow when he ran out of money and his cycle was punctured. He said he would have made it if his cycle wasn’t punctured,” said the officer.
He said he has been convinced by the counsellors not to leave home again.
Ritesh was sent home after counselling and he has resumed attending school. His father also went back to his job in Lucknow.