| Sahil in NRS Hospital. Picture by Amit Datta
Sahil Mollah, 13, set out from a remote Bangladesh village earlier this month on an arduous journey that first brought him to the wholesale fruit market in Jorasanko, north Calcutta, and has now landed him in a hospital bed. All to escape the horrors at home and look for a life.
Sahil, who suffers from “acute asthma”, had to cross the India-Bangladesh border by giving the gun-toting jawans of the Bangladesh Rifles and Border Security Force the slip. On arriving in the city, he found himself the job of a porter at falpatti.
Sahil couldn’t take the strain in this heat and on Saturday, some of his companions dumped him outside Nil Ratan Sircar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital after he developed breathing trouble and lost consciousness. A police patrol chanced upon the crumpled form of the boy and took him to the state-run hospital.
Sunday found Sahil lying in a hospital bed with policemen standing guard — not to arrest the “infiltrator”, but to comfort him and nurse him back to health.
“He may be an infiltrator, but our primary job is to cure him. An intruder also deserves basic healthcare… The legal formalities can be taken care of later,” said police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty.
Police found themselves in a fix when they realised that Sahil was a Bangladeshi who had entered the city without valid papers. They had two options — to arrest the ailing teenager and deport him home, where he was allegedly being treated cruelly, or first nurse him back to health and then take a call on his future. The lawkeepers decided to opt for the humanitarian option.
A batch of officers from Entally police station has come forward to take care of Sahil. The designated juvenile welfare officer of the police station, Shantanu Majumdar, bought a set of new clothes for the boy on Sunday. Others have started raising funds to provide for the boy’s medicines.
“The hospital falls under our jurisdiction. So, we will take care of the boy until and unless any other law-enforcement agency takes his responsibility,” said A.B. Majumdar, officer-in-charge of Entally police station.
Sahil’s nightmare, the boy told the friendly policemen, began four years ago, following the death of his father. “My mother is a domestic help. I started living with my brother and sister-in-law. The first few months were fine but then they stopped my studies. I protested, but they beat me ruthlessly… For days on end, they would allow me just one meal a day,” he alleged.
Sahil finally fled his Mathpara home, under Kumarkhali police station in Kustia district, early this month. “He crossed the Benapole-Petrapole border in Bongaon, walked the 10-km stretch from the border to Bongaon railway station and boarded a Sealdah-bound train,” said juvenile officer Majumdar, seated by Sahil’s side.
Officers from Entally police station, who bought an inhaler for Sahil and are now keeping constant vigil by his hospital bed, have alerted Jorasanko police station, as he had been working in that area. An officer of Jorasanko police station said late on Sunday that the special branch had been informed about the teenager from Bangladesh.