An initiative by a group of students of the National Institute of Technology to reunite a mentally ill youth in Tiruchy with his parents in Uttar Pradesh met with hurdles and delay due to unenthusiastic response from a government official on Monday.
After making the youth and the benefactors wait for several hours, the official, who is the District Revenue Officer, finally came forward to do the job.
For 10 long months, Ajmal spent a quiet life at Anbalayam, a home for the mentally challenged, in Tiruchy. Nobody knew where he came from.
That was until eight students from the National Institute of Technology landed up at the home to celebrate Republic Day with the inmates living there.
One of the students, Praveen Kumar Yadav, an MS Computer Science student hailing from Azamgarh district of UP, introduced himself to the inmates. In a flash, 25-year-old Ajmal, happy that he could articulate in his language, opened up to Praveen about his home and hearth. A small time merchant from Kalloria village of Azamgarh district in Uttar Pradesh, Ajmal had wandered off after an attack of Schizophrenia and, by providence, landed in Tiruchy. He had been under treatment at Anbalayam since then.
Praveen and his friend Krishnaraj, an MTech student, gave Ajmal a patient hearing. Praveen then contacted the Kalloria village police through his friends in Azamagarh district.
“I had sent the present photograph of Ajmal to my friends and the police through e-mail and had sent the address told to me by Ajmal. The address matched,” an elated Praveen told Express. Since Ajmal’s name was enlisted in the ‘missing persons’ list, the local police could figure out the address easily.
After the Kalloria police contacted their counterparts here and confirmed the information about Ajmal, his parents were alerted. Ajmal’s father Sahabudeen, who was working in a private company in Dubai, rushed to Tiruchy along with a few of his relatives in a car. On Sunday night, they reached the city and, as per the procedure, Ajmal was brought to the Collectorate to be handed over to his father in the presence of the Collector during the grievance day meeting.
Since the Collector was away, District Revenue Officer T Thiagarajan presided over the grievance meet. The District Differently-abled Welfare department official Ravichandran and Anbalayam Director Senthil Kumar, along with the students of NIT-T, presented Ajmal before the DRO. However, the official refused to hand him over to his parents. “The Collector is responsible for this and she has to hand him over. She is not available and the parents should come some other day,” the DRO said to the anxious family members and the eager group of students.
Shocked, Sahabudeen, who knew only Hindi, begged officials stating that he had come all the way from UP. The DRO was unmoved.
Sahabudeen agreed to wait for another day.
As they were about to step out of the meeting hall, the District Public Relations Officer called them back and handed over Ajmal to his father in the DRO’s presence. “Initially, we were heart broken when we thought he would have to wait longer to go home. The Officer (DRO) was very firm in his decision,” Krishnaraj said.