Despair after glimpse of hope for Indore woman searching for missing mentally unsound brother

The woman says spotted her mentally unsound younger brother in a picture of destitute people dropped outside city; however, municipal officials who picked her brother were not sure where he was dropped.

AFTER MORE than three months of despair, 60-year-old Kusum Pawar saw hope two days ago. And then she is back to despair once again.

When newspapers splashed images of a group of elderly destitute people, who were picked from the streets in Indore on Friday and dropped outside the city limits by employees of the city municipal corporation, Kusum spotted a familiar face. It was her mentally unsound younger brother Pradeep Singh Pawar, who had walked out of home on October 19 last year and never returned, she told The Indian Express.

Filled with hope, Kusum rushed to the office of Indore Municipal Corporation to check on her brother’s whereabouts, but officials told her they did not know where he was dropped. She was sent back home with the assurance that they will find out and her brother will return the next day.

On Sunday, she learnt that the employees who picked her brother were not sure where he was dropped.

According to district officials, six elderly destitute people were picked from various spots of the city, including outside MY Hospital and Shivaji Vatika Chowk, to be dropped at a Rain Basera — government-run night shelter —to protect them from cold. Kusum was told at the municipal corporation office that her brother was picked from outside MY Hospital and dropped about 13 km from city limits, near Shipra village.

A group of villagers noticed that the elderly were being abruptly taken down from the municipal vehicle. They not only objected but also made videos of it. “When we asked them why these people were being left here, the driver simply said it was a government order. But we stopped the truck and made them take the elderly people back in it,” said Rajesh Joshi, a shopkeeper near the village. He claimed there were at least 13 people in the truck, including 10 elderly people.

“I got a call from the municipal corporation people asking me to check Chandan Nagar as they had dropped one man there, but that man is not my brother,” said Kusum, who on Sunday visited the 10 Rain Baseras of Indore city looking for him.

She said her brother, who is also partially paralysed, left home on October 19 to visit a temple. When he did not return, she registered a missing person complaint next day at Indore’s Sadar Bazaar Police Station. The family found no leads after that, until Saturday when she spotted his picture in a newspaper. “It is clear in the picture that he is my brother as his left hand is paralysed. But the people who picked them cannot recollect where they were dropped,” said Kusum.

Among those picked from the streets was 55-year-old Ramu Thapa, who was picked from outside Shivaji Vatika. He is currently lodged a the Rain Basera near TB Hospital. Thapa told The Indian Express that he was resting on the pavement, which had been his home for the past many years, when he was made to sit in the truck. “They told us we spread dirt around and that we were being taken to better homes and will be given bungalows to live in. They forced us into the trucks and then they randomly dropped us by the roads,” he said. According to Thapa, there were 15 people in the truck. Only three are lodged at the Rain Basera.

According to a senior official, the municipal employees had been instructed to take the destitute people and drop them at a Rain Basera. But they acted on their own and dropped them on the roads after some of them demanded that they he dropped off.

“There were a total of six people who were picked while two of them wanted to be dropped off somewhere else. These employees used their own mandate, which is against government policy, and have since been removed from service,” said a senior government official.

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