Deepak with father Arjun Prasad at MGM hospital, Jamshedpur, on Monday. (Animesh Sengupta)
A broken leg proved a blessing in disguise.
The assault of a boy on March 8 at a Jamshedpur remand home, his hospitalisation and its media coverage paved the way for his reunion with his Uttar Pradesh-based parents after three years on Monday.
Deepak Kumar (12), who was bodily lifted and dashed to the ground by three inmates at the Parsudih remand home, made it to the newspapers when he was admitted to MGM hospital with multiple fractures on his left leg.
The story of the boy, who fled from his alcoholic father’s home in Balia, Uttar Pradesh, spurred a relative in Jamshedpur to come forward, confirm his identity and contact his family.
On Monday morning, Deepak woke up to see his parents Arjun Prasad and Geeta Devi by his hospital bed. For both the boy and his parents, it was no less than a miracle.
While Grade IV government employee Prasad, along with his wife, thanked god for getting their long-lost boy back, Deepak was speechless at finding his parents again.
The minor, a non-offender, had become a vagrant after leaving home, aged barely nine. He was sent to the Parsudih remand home two months ago after police picked him up from Tatanagar.
He candidly admitted he left home to escape the thrashings of a habitually drunk father. He also hated to see his mother getting beaten up.
But after leaving home, the boy had to spend scary years in the school of hard knocks — often abused and hungry.
Meanwhile, much had changed at home. His father, shocked and saddened beyond words, stopped drinking.
On Monday, Deepak not only found his parents, he also met a reformed and loving dad who “doesn’t touch a drop”.
“I can’t express my feelings. I had lost all hope of getting back my only son again. God is great,” said Prasad with moist eyes.
Chastened by fate, the father added: “Had Deepak’s fellow inmates not assaulted him, he wouldn’t have attracted media attention. I would never have been able to find out that my son was in Jamshedpur.”
What changed Prasad?
“The loss of my son. And a good boss, an official, who mentored me and told me to stop drinking,” said Prasad.
Mature beyond his years, Deepak said he saw the difference in his father. “I had decided that I wouldn’t stay with a drunkard. But as my father has changed, I will go back home with pleasure,” he said.
This heart-rending tale with a happy twist brought to light the underbelly of violence at juvenile remand homes. Deepak, who stayed with 33 juveniles, most of them petty offenders, got an insider’s peek of the horrors — taunts, bullying, beatings, et al.
District social welfare officer B.K. Singh, under whom the remand home runs, earlier said Deepak was involved in a theft case. On Monday, Singh clarified the boy was one of the 13 unclaimed children, proving how little officials know about the young wards under their charge.
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