Updated: May 24, 2022 12:48:11 pm
May 18 marked 17 years since his seven-year-old son went missing from a playground near his home in Alappuzha. It was among the most sensational unsolved mysteries in Kerala, with the CBI called in to crack the case but finally submitting a closure report in court after hitting one dead end after another.
On May 22, A R Raju ended his life — the quest for his son, Rahul, an unfulfilled dream.
The police confirmed that it was a case of suicide although they are yet to ascertain the cause, and have not linked it to the son’s case.
“Raju was looking for a job as the family was surviving on the meagre income of his wife Mini, who has a part-time job with a co-operative firm. He had gone to Kochi recently to attend an interview,’’ the family’s neighbour, M S Mujeeb, said. Raju was 52.
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Rahul went missing on May 18, 2005, when Raju was employed in Kuwait with a private firm. The father immediately abandoned his job and returned the next day to search for his son. The case was probed by the state police, the crime branch and three CBI teams for years, but in vain.
All this while, Raju and Mini waited for word of their son in their house named after the boy. They held on to their landline because they said Rahul knew the number. Five years after Rahul went missing, Mini gave birth to a daughter named Shivani.
With no news of his son, Raju went back to Kuwait, but returned due to poor health. “The family had been trying to overcome the pain after the daughter was born. Even though the CBI had closed the case, they hoped for good news. They kept Rahul’s photos hoping those images would help them identify the boy, if he was traced. Raju went to several locations across Kerala in search of his son,’’ Mujeeb, the neighbour, said.
In 2009, the CBI moved the court seeking permission to close the case, but was nudged to conduct a “scientific investigation”. In all, the agency questioned over two dozen people in Rahul’s neighbourhood and even subjected a neighbour, Rojo George, to a polygraph test.
Three units of the agency also tracked several unidentified bodies, chasing reports of missing children being found in other parts of the country, sparking a buzz when it zeroed in on a body found on a railway track in Andhra Pradesh.
But this lead too led to a dead end.
In between, the case took a twist when a man identified as Krishna Pillai, who was arrested for sexually abusing and killing a minor girl, claimed that he had murdered Rahul. Pillai claimed during questioning that he had disposed of the boy’s body in a stretch of marsh land in the Alappuzha municipal area.
But an all-out search in the area yielded nothing.
In 2014, the CBI submitted its closure report before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Kochi. The report was accepted.
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