Mentally unstable and missing, ‘they are made to slog’

Mehtab Shaikh, 16, who is mentally unstable, has been missing for the last four years from Landewadi area of Pimpri-Chinchwad. He was apparently spotted by family friends of the Shaikhs in Indrayani Nagar area at least three times in the last six months, but only for a few seconds.

"He was 12 when he went missing one day. For three years, there had been no information despite our repeated trips to the Bhosari police station. But six months back, a family friend spotted him in Indrayani Nagar area. Before they could reach out to Mehtab, the man accompanying him sped away with him on a two-wheeler. After this, he has been spotted riding pillion on a two-wheeler at least twice," said his father Matlub Alam Shaikh.

Shaikhs believe since Mehtab is mentally unstable, he is being made to slog in a small scale unit. "Our family friends who saw him said he was in a bad shape, his clothes were also not good, besides he was carrying some goods on his lap. We fear he is being used as a bonded labourer..." said a family member.

Shaikh has filed a complaint with the Bhosari police to launch a search in the Bhosari-Indrayani Nagar area. "We have also alerted autorickshaw drivers in the area," he said.

Similarly, Vijay Sawant, 27, who too suffers from mental illness, went missing two months ago from Pimple Apartments in Kasarwadi. He had gone missing last year too but was found working in a hotel in Thane. His family is now searching for him at hotels in Mumbai, Panvel and Thane.

"We do not know how he landed up in a hotel last year. We feel some people could be on the lookout for mentally ill kids so that their services could be used without having to pay them," said Nanda Sawant, mother of Vijay.

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