If you spot Tarun Gupta, call 9819610512/7977246793.
Video Editor: Ashish MacCune
It has been over three months since 16-year-old Tarun Gupta went missing from his home in South Mumbai’s Colaba area. Tarun has autism and has vision and speech impairment. At about 10:30 am on 1 October 2019, Tarun started dancing in an election rally and ended up at CST station with them.
When he didn’t return home by afternoon, his parents set out to find him.
“He usually goes over to the homes of people living one or two buildings away. They love him. But when he didn’t return, my wife called me and told me that Tarun hasn’t arrived yet and it’s been a while. I have looked for him. I was in Worli, I came back and looked for him here and found out that he has gone to a rally. By the time I reached there, the rally was over. They told me that he was with them but they didn’t know where he went. We looked for him everywhere.”Vinod Gupta, Tarun’s Father
The very same night, Tarun’s parents filed an FIR with the police to find their child. The timeline pieced together through CCTV footage and passengers’ accounts during the investigation revealed that Tarun reached CST station on 1 October.
He, then, supposedly boarded a train that took him to Panvel in Navi Mumbai. He remained at the Panvel Station for two days, that is, on 1 and 2 October. But on 2 October, he was forcefully pushed into the luggage compartment of the Turari Express by an RPF personnel when he asked for help.
“He was made to board the luggage compartment. We asked them but they were quite rude to us at that time. They told that he was troubling them. I asked, ‘How was he troubling you? He was just asking for water.’ After that we left from there because the primary focus was to find our child.”Vinod Gupta, Tarun’s Father
An inquiry has been ordered against the RPF personnel who, instead of following the SOP of calling in members of the Child Welfare Committee, bundled Tarun into the luggage compartment of the train.
“In the CCTV footage, we, of course, found that he was put in the luggage compartment but when we enquired with the constable, he said that there’s no space available in the general compartment and the boy was taken to the luggage compartment. That is not at all the correct way of dealing with it.”Asharaf KK, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF
“The SOP clearly says that if you find any minor in the station, he should be rescued and brough to our office and the station authority should be informed, get as many details as possible and get in touch with the parents and CWC because in such cases we cannot hand over the child directly to the parents,” Senior Divisional Security Commissioner of the RPF Asharaf KK added.
Tarun was last spotted at Sawantwadi Station near Goa. He then boarded the Madgaon Jan Shatabdi Express from there and that’s where the trail disappears.
“He was sitting on someone’s seat, they tried making him get up. He was made to sit on the floor. There were a lot of people there, but no one helped him. He kept sitting on the floor. Some people gave him food because he was hungry. The RPF itself told us that they were trying to get him to alight, he started screaming, that’s why they stopped trying.”Vinod Gupta, Tarun’s Father
Over the last few months, the family has received many calls from people who claim to have seen Tarun or a child who looks like Tarun. The tip offs, however, have not helped thus far.
“Every time we get a call, we go there and sit there all night and all day, in the hope that it might be him. We have hope,” his father said.