Taking him to be dead, Naresh Rana’s family had performed his last rites nine years ago. However, a newspaper advertisement by the police brought smiles back to the family of the missing 26-year-old Dhanbad youth, who has been traced in a Pakistani jail.
Mixed reactions prevail in this labourer family residing in Jharkhand’s coal belt -- Dhanbad’s Vishanpur locality -- where the members are both excited and shocked. They are excited because Naresh is alive but the fact that he is in a Pakistani jail puts them in shock as they do not know whether or not he would return alive.
Over 50 days have elapsed since the family came to know that Naresh has landed in a Pakistani jail. Since then, Naresh’s elder brother Bajo Rana has been running from pillar to post to meet administrative authorities and politicians urging them to bring his brother back but he has only been getting assurances so far.
Dhanbad Member of Parliament, PN Singh said after the family met him, he wasted no time in writing a letter to the ministry of external affairs strongly recommending to get the Jharkhand lad released from the Pakistani jail at the earliest. “I am also going to meet external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and home minister Rajnath Singh with the aggrieved family on November 28,” he said.
Talking about how Naresh strayed into Pakistan, his brother says the incident dates back to 2006. Poverty and unemployment in their native Jamui district in Bihar compelled Naresh to go to Gujarat’s Surat city along with a few other youngsters of the village in search of a job.
In Surat, Naresh got a job with a private fishing company. His job was to fish with a couple of colleagues in fishing motor boats. During one such visit to the sea, his boat must have strayed into the Pakistani waters where they could have been caught by the Pakistani Navy. As all aboard the boat were caught and there were no eye-witnesses to the arrests, the employer presumed the boat might have sunk in the high sea.
In Jamui, when the family did not hear from Naresh for a long time, Bajo Rana went to Surat only to be told that his brother was no more as the boat they were riding was caught in a sea storm and sunk.
On Bajo Rana’s return from Surat, the family performed Naresh’s last rites. “We had to believe in what the employer said,” Rana told HT. The family then migrated to Dhanbad from Jamui for greener pastures. Bajo began travelling to different Jharkhand districts with his contract firm where he worked as a labourer.
On October 1, while working in Lohardagga, Bajo came across a newspaper advertisement that carried pictures of 17 missing children of Bihar and Jharkhand along with their present addresses. He immediately identified Naresh in the advertisement and contacted Lohardagga police superintendent, S Karthik.
“Since the family originally hails from Jamui, we sent all details to the local administration. The Jamui DM Kaushal Kumar, I am told, has taken up the matter with the Centre,” Karthik said.
“We are unable to sleep or eat properly. Our brother is in a country where prisoners are treated cruelly. We are very poor to travel to Pakistan to see him. We can only pray and request the government to secure his release,” said another brother, Sanjay, a carpenter.
The family has also written to the Prime Minister requesting his intervention.