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Missing for 40 yrs, ex-rifleman from Manipur found on Mumbai streets, to be reunited with family

A video, posted in October, 2017, was spotted by Gambhir’s younger brother after which he wrote in to Imphal police, asking for help.

mumbai Updated: Apr 16, 2018 20:51 IST
Sobhapati Samom and Neha Gupta
Sobhapati Samom and Neha Gupta
Hindustan Times, Imphal/New Delhi
Missing Imphal man,Mumbai police,trending news
Khomdram Gambhir was part of the Manipur rifles for seven years after which he left his house in Imphal in 1978, without informing his family.(Mumbai Police on Twitter)

Forty years after he went missing from his home in Imphal, a former member of paramilitary Manipur Rifles has finally been traced to the streets of Mumbai — thanks to the police and a YouTube video.

Manipur Police got in touch with Khomdram Gambhir (66) on Sunday, and his family in Khumbong Mamang Leikai locality in Imphal West is excited to have him back. Two police officers from local Patsoi police station will leave for Mumbai on Tuesday while Gambhir’s younger brother Kullachandra, 57, and another family member will travel a day after.

Twitter user and political activist Angellica Aribam shared a picture of Gambhir with the Mumbai Police while another user, Atom Samarendra, helped identify the man, who was his neighbour in Khumbong. Samarendra also tweeted his phone number for the police to get in touch.

The third among six siblings — three sisters and three brothers — Gambhir, a former rifleman, went missing in 1978. Separated from his wife three months after his marriage, Gambhir left home two months later without informing anyone. The family tried tracing him, but failed in its efforts. His brother Kullachandra’s wife Memcha and son Romen said that they heard about Gambhir recently from one of the villagers, Leichonbam Romen, who shared a video of the missing man in a local WhatsApp group.

HT Photo (Locals at Khomdram Gambhir’s home at Khumbong Mamang Leikai in Imphal West district after hearing the news from Mumbai.)

On April 15, Kulachandra wrote in to Patsoi Police, requesting the cops for help, after he saw a video plea to trace his brother on YouTube. “I could not believe when a nephew of mine came running to me with a video footage of my brother. When I saw the video, I could not stop crying. I could neither sleep nor eat thereafter. I was very happy to know that he is alive. This is like waking up from a nightmare,” says Kulachandra.

The video, posted on October 17, 2017, was shot by Twitter user Firoze Shakir who describes himself as a storyteller, who videotaped Gambhir more like a case study. “Children teased him on the streets calling him Nepali and he would abuse them and shout out that he was a Manipuri - an Indian, not a Nepali, reads the description of the video.

Shakir got to know Gambhir better with each passing day. “He would come to Bandra Bazar where I stay. He would visit the hooch joint there he would regale the public with old Hindi songs.”

Shakir, a street photographer, says he would provide Gambhir with either money or snacks. “He took a liking to me as I shot his pictures.

Gambhir was in the Army, but left and came back to his hometown after his father’s death to till the farms. Shortly after, a misunderstanding among the brothers led him to leave Manipur for Mumbai. “All that led Gambhir to become a hardcore alcoholic,” according to Shakir.

Aribam, who has deleted her original tweet, signed off with another one thanking the Mumbai Police for safeguarding the man.

Twitter was full of praise for speedy action by Mumbai Police and Aribam:

First Published: Apr 16, 2018 19:05 IST