At 9.10 am on November 22, 2017, a bare-footed Wajid Ali (19) left his house in Govandi wearing his college uniform. The boy, who told his father he was going to college, never returned home and in over a year since his disappearance, his father Haider Ali has scouted the streets of Mumbai, its far-flung suburbs and other cities too, only to be disappointed.
Soon after Wajid went missing, his father made several trips to the local police station but he gave up when he felt there was no help coming his way.
“Initially there was an officer appointed to locate my son, but since the officer got transferred they have stopped investigating,” said Haider Ali, who owns a cloth shop near the Sion railway station.
Two months after Wajid went missing, a unit of Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad visited his house. “It looked suspicious,” said an officer investigating the case as the boy had left the house in a pair of clothes. He even left his mobile phone in his house, said his father.
However, after visiting his residence, the ATS sleuths took his mobile phone, which was later sent for forensic analysis. “We checked his phone, but there wasn’t anything suspicious. After that we have stopped investigating,” added an officer.
However, the 50-year-old man, father of six children, said that days before Wajid went missing, his elder brother Ahmed had confronted him when he had said that he wanted to leave everything and go to Medina. “I started looking for him. He is the fourth child of six, while Ahmed is the third,” he said.
Wajid, a first year B Pharma student, wanted to run a chemist shop in Mumbai. Of late, he had started visiting a spiritual leader in our area, said his father.
“After I checked his phone and even inquired in the locality, I was told that he would visit him often. He would go to his house at least twice a day,” said Haider.
On the basis of his suspicion, the spiritual leader was even taken to police station for inquiry but to no avail. As police stopped pursuing his missing complaint, Haider then started visited spiritual gurus in and around Mumbai.
“If somebody tells me that a spiritual leader has helped them find their child, I would go visit him, the next day,” said Haider. Under their guidance, the small-time businessman from Sion has visited Pune, Bhoisar, Vapi, Palghar and several other cities in the last few months.
With the photograph of his son in his hand, Haider walked the streets of these towns asking people whether they had “seen his boy anywhere”. “In a week’s time, I am planning to visit Sindhudurg,” said Haider. He has even spent money on printing posters and banners that he has pasted in several areas.
The search has been a gruelling experience but Haider’s hope has not diminished. He believes that his son will return one day. “He has been misguided by someone due to which he is stuck somewhere,” he added.