July 13, 2021 2:16:53 am
Returned TO his biological parents just last month, a Muslim teenager promised his foster parents that he would come to Nagpur for his “mummy’s” birthday on July 12. On Sunday, the 19-year-old travelled 300 km from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh to fulfil that promise.
After close to seven years in foster care with the Damles, a Hindu family, Mohammad Amir returned to his Muslim parents on June 30. Mentally challenged, Amir had gone missing from his hometown of Jabalpur and somehow landed at the Nagpur railway station in 2012.
Then an eight-year-old, he could not help police trace his origins, so he was handed over to a government childcare home in the city. From there, he was moved to another home run by a social worker, Samarth Damle. Damle’s home, however, shut down. While all the residents of the home were taken back by their parents or relatives, Amir had nowhere to go. So, Damle and his wife, Lakshmi, decided to keep him.
But a frantic effort to get an Aadhaar card for his SSC examination this year revealed that the boy the Damles had named Aman was, in fact, Mohammad Amir from Jabalpur. Soon, communication was set up with his parents and the couple handed him over to his biological father, Ayub Khan, and mother, Mehrunnisa.
On Monday, “Aman” celebrated Lakshmi’s birthday along with his foster siblings, Mohit (28) and Gunjan (25), before returning to Jabalpur again.
“He has lived with us for seven years,” said 54-year-old Samarth, who gave him a different name — Aman Suresh Dhanagare. “When I tried getting his Aadhaar card, I failed. So, I went to the main Aadhaar Seva Kendra, where the manager, Anil Marathe, made a detailed search about why the system was not accepting Aman’s Aadhaar request. Marathe finally found out that Aman’s Aadhaar card was already registered under the name Mohammad Amir, and that he belonged to Jabalpur,” Samarth said.
The information was an emotional blow to the Damles. “Marathe advised us to restore the boy to this family. Despite emotional attachment, we contacted the family that Marathe helped us track down. Aman’s parents, Ayub Khan and Mehrunnisa, came to meet us on June 28. Aman, however, did not recognise them and refused to go with them. But a day later, he said he was able to recollect his abbu’s memory. So we informed the Khans again, and they returned on June 30 to take their son back home. It is difficult to express in words what a big emotional blow it was for us. We were not at all inclined to giving him away, but had to reconcile with reality,” Samarth said.
Lakshmi said, “I couldn’t stop crying when he left. Even on Monday, when he came to celebrate my birthday, we all cried when he left for Jabalpur.”
Asked if Aman, too, became emotional, Lakshmi said, “He appeared overwhelmed but didn’t cry. He is not mentally equipped to properly express his feelings.”
Ayub Khan, Amir’s father, said, “I can’t thank the Damle family enough for taking care of my lost son like their own. We had lost all hope. But somewhere in my heart, I knew I might see him again.”
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