A Class IX student of St Loyola High School in Iqbalpur, who fled home six months ago and got involved with a smuggling racket, was brought back home from Siliguri on Saturday.
Gopal Samaddar, 15, told police that he had left his Iqbalpur residence in order to escape his stepmother’s ire. He had reportedly fled home thrice since last year. Ramesh Nath, an acquaintance of his father, forced him to return to Calcutta against his will.
Gopal’s father, Dipak Samaddar, accounts manager of a nationalised bank in Budge Budge, is relieved to get back his only son. But Gopal has apparently threatened to leave home again.
Ramesh, who was sent to Siliguri by Samaddar to look for Gopal, told the Government Railway Police (GRP) on Saturday that the boy was employed at a hotel in Siliguri and would ferry smuggled goods for a living.
“I had to carry goods from one place to another. The leader of our gang would give me a lot of money to bribe the police and customs officials in case I got caught. Once I paid Rs 10,000 to a some customs officers for my release,” Gopal told the GRP. Though he was not paid a salary, food and shelter were free, he added.
Ramesh told the GRP that he persuaded Gopal to return saying that his father was seriously ill. The boy’s ‘employer’, too, agreed to let him go and the two boarded the Sealdah-bound Down Kanchankanya Express on Saturday morning.
Along with Gopal and Ramesh in the train was a couple carrying smuggled goods. The couple asked them to get off at Bandel since they were travelling ticketless. At Bandel, Gopal suddenly changed his mind and decided not to go back to his father. He picked up an argument with Ramesh. Their altercation soon drew the attention of bystanders who found Gopal struggling to free himself from the clutches of Ramesh.
With their help, Ramesh took Gopal to the GRP office. The GRP then contacted Samaddar who rushed to Bandel station, along with his wife and brother-in-law, to fetch his son.