Lost-and-found boy reunites with his mother after a year

The ordeal of a teenager who went missing in Jaffna last year
By Chris Kamalendran

A 13 year old boy who was grabbed on his way to school in Jaffna last year and first forced to work as a domestic aide to a wealthy businessman in Kattankudi and then brought back to work at a textile shop in Jaffna, was reunited with his mother yesterday.

Paramanathan Rajeeram, from Manipay, 16 kilometres off Jaffna town was abducted reportedly by a scrap iron collector on June 8, last year. Since then, his 50-year-old mother, Vadani Wathsala, 50 who had lost her husband four years before had not given up the search for her lost son and had visited the Human Rights Commission, Police stations, Army camps and religious places.

Together at last: Mother and son at the Jaffna Hospital on Friday

Last week, one of her neigbours who had visited Jaffna town had told her that he had seen a boy resembling her son working at a roadside textile sales outlet. “I immediately went to the Manipay police with my neighbour and gave them the tip off. The Police sent persons in civvies in one vehicle, while we followed in another,” the happy mother said.

“Within a few minutes the police brought the boy to me and it was my son. I wanted to take him back home immediately but the police said some legal procedure had to be followed”. Police arrested three people from the sales outlet and produced them along with the boy before the Mallakam Magistrate K.Jeewarani.

Police investigations have revealed that last year when the boy was on his way to school a cyclist had approached him and said he could get a lift to school in a van. After the boy had got into the van he had been taken to lodging in Jaffna town and given a change of clothing. That same night he had been taken to Kattankudi and handed over to a businessman in the area.

He had been named Anver after being converted to Islam following a religious ceremony. He had worked for a family of five that included three school-going girls. His chores included taking them to school and watering the plants among other duties.

From Kattankudi the boy had been brought back to Jaffna where he was handed over to another person who ran a textile shop. When the boy was reunited with his mother he was not aware that he was back in Jaffna but thought he was still in Kattankudi.

The Jaffna Human Rights Commission, the Child Care and Probation office and the Police are carrying out their own investigations into the matter. The shopkeeper of the textile shop was remanded until Tuesday while the main suspect, the businessman from Kattankudi is evading arrest.

Meanwhile, the boy who had been admitted to the Jaffna hospital to obtain a JMO’s report had been chained to the bed at nights by prison officials, drawing strong objections from Human Rights and probation officials.

The prison officials had claimed that this was done to prevent the boy being ‘abducted’ once more.

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