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3-year search for father in vain

Jiby Kattakayam

NEW DELHI: Eighty-three-year-old T.P. Vareed, a freedom fighter hailing from the Thrissur district of Kerala, went missing under mysterious circumstances on the intervening night of February 20/21, 2008, from the Himsagar Express on his journey from Jalandhar to Kerala.

Three years later, his son, T.V. Poulose, an Inspector with the Border Security Force who was then posted in Punjab, has almost lost all hope of finding his father. Mr. Poulose says he has undertaken countless trips to 13 districts in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh along the rail route from Agra to Bhopal in search of his father.

Following his disappearance, Mr. Poulose discovered among his father's belongings, clippings of Malayalam newspaper articles profiling him and his correspondence with other freedom fighters to secure pension freedom fighters are entitled to.

Apart from an FIR lodged at the Government Railway Police Station, Bhopal, on February 26, Mr. Poulose and his family visited police officials in the 13 districts, distributed leaflets and published advertisements in Hindi newspapers with Mr. Vareed's photograph and other details. The family even retrieved a list of passengers travelling in Mr. Vareed's compartment on his fateful journey and contacted them, but to no avail.

An important development in the case came on July 27, 2008, when Mr. Poulose received an anonymous email seeking a ransom of $20,000 for Mr. Vareed's release. But Mr. Poulose complains that despite passing on the email to the Bhopal GRP police, no information on the origin of the email was provided to him.

Suspicious and hurt at the conduct of the police force, Mr. Poulose even met Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony. The Minister, he said, had issued necessary instructions to all the officials concerned.

Mr. Poulose says the only two scenarios he can visualise is that either his father was kidnapped or he fell from the train and the authorities cremated him without keeping the body for the mandatory 72 hours, taking photographs or keeping his belongings.

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