HUBBALLI: Puujita, the girl who went missing from Bengaluru, had only about Rs.600 with her when she left home on August 24. The 13-year-old not only managed to travel till Ahmedabad, but also survived with a meager amount.
When she decided to catch the Ajmer Express from Bengaluru, she a set of clothes and Rs.610. Upon reaching Ahmedabad, she bought a dress for herself. She enquired with a ticket collector about trains to Bengaluru, and this was the first clue the search teams chanced upon.
“Police had told us that Puujita was found at Ahmedabad railway station. But we could not get more details. We tried to check the movements of passengers near the ticketing counter, but as there was no CCTV, we could not trace her whereabouts. The police team told us that Puujita had enquired with a TC about trains heading to Bengaluru. This revived our hopes and we alerted our relatives and friends at railway stations in cities which connect Mumbai and Bengaluru,” explained Prabhu Umadi, brother-in-law of Puujita’s father, who found her at Hubballi railway station on Sunday.
Recalling the frantic search at the railway station, Umadi said he and his brother were checking the timings of trains that are coming from Mumbai. “When we were told that Chalukya Express is reaching the station at 12.30 pm, we started moblising our friends and relatives to search for her. We gave the photographs of Puujita to the railway police who also came forward to help us. “We had only 15 minutes and we decided to start checking from the general compartments. My cousin Vinod found Puujita sleeping in S1 Coach of the train. It was a joyous moment for us,” he said.
Initially, Puujita refused to get down from the train and started crying. But she was consoled by her relatives and was taken to their house in Hubballi after a brief meeting with the police.
“During her four-day journey she dogged all odds and inquisitive glares from co-passengers. She survived on idlis sold at stations and in coaches. She had purchased a ticket to Bengaluru from Mumbai, but mistakenly got into a reserved coach in a hurry. We are now happy to have her at our home and she is doing fine. Her parents and relatives have spoken to her over the phone. We also thank people who helped spread the word and trace her,” Prabhu added.