|Javed Rehman with wife Hamida Bibi, whom he saw after 25 years on Monday, in the courtyard of their house. Pictures by Alamgir Hossain
Behrampore, Nov. 15: Twenty-five years after he went missing and over a decade after his family took him to be dead, Javed Rehman returned home yesterday.
But the man, now 52, mute since birth, had to pass truth tests to prove that he was ind- eed their own.
Yesterday, Javed was taken about a kilometre away from his house and told to make it back through a village path. He passed the test with flying colours.
Today, he was asked to pick out his wife from a crowd of about 60 women.
Hamida Bibi, 43, said: 'He looked at each woman and then walked straight to me, took me by my hand and pulled me out of the crowd. I was shaking like a leaf when I saw him. I had a closer look and was certain that he was my long lost husband. I told Anisur, my son, that his father was back. We both hugged him and broke down in tears. There were tears in my husband's eyes, too.'
Anisur, born four months after Javed disappeared, is ecstatic. 'I simply can't express how I felt seeing my father for the first time,' he said.
Javed had left his native village in Benekola, about 220 km from Calcutta, on April 23, 1980, to attend an SUCI rally at Shahid Minar in the city the following day. He went missing from the rally.
Javed's brothers, all farmers, and Hamida lodged a police complaint after Anil Ghosh, an SUCI activist from neighbouring Keshaipur who went to Calcutta with him, returned home alone. Hamida was six months pregnant then.
'We never thought Javed could still be alive. We had tried our best to locate him. We went to the police and also approached the CID with the help of the then school education minister, Abdul Bari, but we could not find him. My brother did not know the sign language as he never went to a school,' said Javed's elder brother Sadeq.
Early this month, family friend maulvi Mohammad Jalaluddin Sarkar came from neighbouring Shibnagar to inform Sadeq that he had seen a man in Burdwan's Asansol, about 245 km away, who resembled Javed.
Sarkar said: 'I had been there to raise funds for a madarsa and put up for the night at a mosque where I noticed a bearded man who looked very much like our Javed. I enquired about him and was told that he had been roaming the streets of Asansol 14 years ago. Being mute, he could not explain how he arrived there. The authorities of the mosque, where he went to offer prayers, took pity on him and allowed him to stay on.'
On Sunday, Sadeq left for Asansol with cousin Moinul Islam and two other villagers.
Although the bearded man appeared the same old Javed, family members put him through the tests 'to be 100 per cent sanguine'.
Hundreds of people from neighbouring villages thronged Benekola today for a glimpse of Javed, the man many of them had heard about but never seen before. Others came out of sheer curiosity.