Aadhaar enrollment helps Karnataka child reunite with family after nearly 4 years in Assam

In 2018, 10-year-old Yallaling boarded a train to reach Assam, 3,000 km away from home, only to be found now
Last Updated : 04 February 2022, 02:30 IST

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In August 2018, Yallaling was following his mother Laxmi to collect ration at Chitapur in Karnataka's Kalaburagi. After a while when Laxmi looked back, her 10-year-old mentally challenged son was missing.

Yallaling had boarded a train and landed in Kamrup district in Assam, nearly 3,000 km away from home. He could neither speak, because of language barriers, nor write his address at Palashbari police station in Kamrup, about 25 km from Guwahati, where a policeman took him. As per the norms, he was produced in the Child Welfare Committee, Kamrup and was sent to a government-run children's home at Fatasil Ambari in Guwahati. He was named Umesh, as he could not even tell his name. He communicated only through gestures.

On August 14, 2018, Yallaling was referred to Late Rishi Hazarika Memorial Home for Special Children run by Destination, an NGO at Kahilipara in Guwahati. "When he came to us, he was having severe epilepsy and had to be provided treatment. His condition improved gradually and was having fun with other children. But he could not tell us his address," Chumki Bora, superintendent of the home told DH on Thursday.

His parents, too, lodged a complaint with police to trace him.

Just when the NGO staff were struggling to find out his address for sending him back home, Aadhaar enrollment came as a respite. "In February 2020, we had taken all the children for Aadhaar enrollment and their biometric details were provided. Then the Covid-19 lockdown was declared and the enrollment process was stopped. In January this year, when I had gone to collect their Aadhaar cards, the same for three children including him could not be downloaded," Bora said.

"The staff in the Aadhaar centre told me that their biometrics were already uploaded somewhere else. So their cards could not be downloaded. Then he told us to update the phone number and I provided my number. Finally we managed to download his Aadhaar card with permission from the administration. Thus we came to know about his address," Bora said.

On January 28, Bora contacted Karnataka police after trying three-four helpline numbers and within 24-hours Yallaling's family was contacted. "On January 31, his mother, grandmother and two maternal uncles reached Guwahati and took him back home on Wednesday. For the first time in four years, he talked and was so happy. He jumped in happiness, hugged his mother and thanked us in his mother tongue," Bora said.

Kamrup district child protection officer, Malabika Kalita, among others were present when the boy, now about 14, was reunited with his family.

Rupa Hazarika, founder of Destination. said it was a very happy and satisfying moment for all of them. Hazarika said that they were happy that Destination had similarly reunited more mentally challenged children with their families in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.

Hazarika is now a member of Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights,

Destination at present has a strength of 120, including 30 children suffering from autism and other mental health issues.

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Published 03 February 2022, 15:35 IST

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