The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Girls fled from pressure
- Penniless trio returns after week's absence

They wanted to break free, to run away. 'For the three Class X girls, the restrictions imposed on them by their parents and the pressure to perform well in exams were becoming too overpowering,' said an officer of Beniapukur police station.

Almost seven days after they went 'missing', Sreyashi Talukdar, Swagata Das and Sedna Ali returned on Monday night and told the police that they were disgusted with the cloistered life at home and wanted to taste freedom. They came back only after running out of money.

'The girls were not repentant,' said the officer. 'Two of them said their parents did not allow them to watch TV or wear jeans, while the third claimed to have been put off by her fractured family life. All three said the pressure on them to fare well in exams was too much to bear.'

All three are students of Class X. While Sreyashi, a resident of Sodepur, and Swagata, of Topsia, study at Pratt Memorial School, Sedna, who lives in Park Circus, is a former student of the institution.

They went 'missing' on January 16, leaving the parents on the edge and the police stumped. For all these days, they did not call their parents even once and went around spending whatever money they were carrying. When the reserve was exhausted, they sold their rings and watches.

According to their statements to police, the girls had met on Ripon Street. Sreyashi and Swagata were in their school uniform and Sedna in casuals.

They went to Victoria Memorial and then to City Centre, Salt Lake, where Sreyashi and Swagata changed into casuals. After visiting several places, the three spent the night hiding below the staircase of a house in Gariahat.

The next day, they went to Kalna, in Burdwan district, by train and put up in a hotel.

On January 20, they moved to Bandel, where they stayed at a guest house near the railway station.

It was from Bandel that Swagata called her private tutor Namita Sarkar, at her Picnic Garden residence, and asked her to arrange for funds. She asked Namita to turn up at Sealdah station some time late at night and hand over the money ' whatever she could manage.

The tutor promptly made her way to Swagata's house to inform her parents of the conversation. An officer of Beniapukur police station, where a missing persons diary was lodged, was present.

It was decided that the tutor would go to Sealdah station as asked by Swagata, but the officer would trail her.

The girls arrived at the station, were taken into custody and brought to Beniapukur thana. They were interrogated before being handed over to their parents.

All that Sreyashi's father Apurba would say after getting his daughter back was that he was 'relieved'.

'We are not asking her anything now. Let things settle down first,' he said.

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