KOLKATA, June 18 (PTI): A teenage girl from West Bengal, who was lost in far-away Kashmir over a decade ago, was reunited with her family, thanks to the efforts of the police and a radio club of the eastern state.
It was a happy moment when the girl, now a woman and mother of three children, met her family in a village in Baramulla area on Saturday, her brother Hasan Sheikh told PTI over the phone from Kashmir.
The girl had approached the National Commission for Women with the help of her brother-in-law some time back, praying for an arrangement for uniting her with her long-lost family.
In the letter to the NCW, she could only say that she was from the Sunderbans area in West Bengal and the nearest railway station to her home was Jaynagar.
The Commission then contacted the local police around a month ago, who with the help of the West Bengal Radio Club, got in touch with the woman’s family and delivered her message to them, a police officer said.
“After getting the preliminary information from Baruipur Women Police Station, we were able to trace her family in Deulbari village, under the jurisdiction of Kultali police station,” secretary of West Bengal Radio Club, Ambarish Nag Biswas, said.
“The vast network of the radio club and the personnel of Kultali police station helped us locate the family,” he said.
Five members of the woman’s family, including her mother and brother, left for Kashmir on June 14 and finally reunited with her at her in-laws’ place on Saturday after almost a decade.
Various police personnel contributed money and bought train tickets for the woman’s family to help them go and meet their child, an officer of Kultali station said.
But it was quite a difficult task to communicate with her.
“Over the years, she forgot her mother tongue and cannot speak Bengali now. We spoke to her with the help of a translator (a radio club member in Kashmir) during a conference call.
“Initially, she refused to talk to us as we were strangers to her. Radio club members in Kashmir then sent a representative of a local NGO to her house one day. Since then, things became easier for us,” Biswas said.
The woman’s husband is a health department employee there while her brother-in-law is in the tourism business.
Her family said that they had lost contact with her after her marriage in Kashmir.
The radio club’s secretary, however, said that she had gone there with a relative who returned without her and informed the family that he had made an arrangement there where she would be taken good care of.
At that time, the poor family of the girl was financially dependent on that relative and did not question him much. Later, her brother repeatedly asked him about the whereabouts of her sister, and after failing to get a satisfactory answer from him, did not keep any contact with him.
No complaint was, however, lodged with the local police in this regard at that time, Biswas said.
An officer of the Baruipur police district said, “Though it is not clear why she was untraced for many years, we are happy that a family has been reunited with their daughter, and we have a small contribution to it.”