The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A day on, sold son becomes abducted

Barasat, Oct. 28: Santosh Das walked out of the Barasat sub-divisional judicial magistrate’s court a free man today, a few hours after the night he spent in a police lock-up for allegedly selling his son, Gopal, to a woman for Rs 20,000.

With Barasat police, which “detained” him for more than 12 hours since Monday evening, telling the court that Gopal was actually “kidnapped” by Putul Das — and not sold by his father — Santosh took his son home with him. The court kept Putul in judicial custody.

But no one was answering the biggest question of all: why a father whose son was “kidnapped” had to spend a night in the police lock-up. There was also no answer to how laundry-worker Santosh raised Rs 4,500 for bond and lawyer’s fees on Tuesday, a few hours after admitting that he had sold his son because he was finding it impossible to maintain a large family.

The only answer came from little Gopal. Asked outside the court what happened on Monday, the five-year-old said: “Oi thakumata niye giyechhilo. Baba jete bolechhilo (The grandmother there took me away and I went with her after my father told me to do so).”

The day began with all three — Santosh, Gopal and Putul —being taken to court around noon. Father and son were produced before the judge three hours later.

Santosh was the first to be quizzed after he filed an application requesting that he be allowed to take his son home. He was asked only one question: “Is this your son'”

After he replied in the affirmative, Gopal was bodily lifted — to afford the judge a better view — by the police constable escorting him. He was asked two questions: whether Santosh was his father and whether he wanted to go home. Two affirmatives followed, the second somewhat faint.

The court then asked Santosh to furnish a personal-risk bond of Rs 2,000 before taking Gopal home. Santosh did so and, a little later, paid his lawyers Rs 2,500. “Praner daye taka jogar korechhi (I had to get the money to save myself),” he said, asked how he had got so much money overnight.

Fear seemed to be the key for Santosh. Asked why a day before he said he sold his son, Santosh replied: “Ami bhoy peye giyechhilam (I was afraid).”

Who had scared him' “They,” he had said, before spelling out who they were: “Members of the Pioneer Park Club.”

Club members denied Santosh’s version. “He said in full public view on Monday that he had sold his son,” club secretary Jaideb Das said. “Why should we scare someone whose son has been abducted into saying he sold his son'” asked Jaideb.

Santosh’s home at Bhatrapalli remained locked throughout the day and his second wife and the three sons he had with her were nowhere to be found.

Only his employer, also called Santosh Das, was waiting for his namesake so that he could get Champak Laundry back in business.


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