Thursday, January 27

West Bengal Lost for 37 years, HAM operators unite woman with family

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Thirty-seven years ago, Ganu Mondal (Bauri) had disappeared from her home in Jharkhand’s Chorabasti village only to surface near Bakkhali beach in Bengal some 450km away on a fiercely rainy night. She had no memory of where she came from and how she had strayed so far. She was taken in by a local family and made Bakkhali her home.
It was a casual chat with a tourist from Kolkata a little over two weeks ago that set in motion an intense 15-day search operation by a group of HAM radio operators, cops from the two neighbouring states and several volunteers that finally led to her reunion with her husband and two daughters on Sunday.’Search took us from Bakkhali to Bokaro via Kol & Purulia’

It was one of my toughest assignments,” said Ambarish Nag Biswas, secretary of West Bengal Radio Club, an organisation of HAM radio enthusiasts, who played a key role in this tale of reunion. “The search took us from Bakkhali to Kolkata to Purulia, and ended in Bokaro. But the biggest challenge was to convince her husband Umapada and daughters, Shankari and Dulali, that Ganu was alive.

About 15 years after she went missing, the family conducted Ganu’s “shraddha” and got a death certificate and her husband remarried. “Three Adivasi panchayats were called to decide if the daughters could take her back. We received support from the womenfolk before the village heads were convinced,” said Biswas.
Tea stall owner Baneswar Mondal had offered Ganu food and shelter when she surfaced in Bakkhali nearly four decades ago. He also gave her the job of running a stall and looking after his child. Over the years, Ganu became recognizable in Bakkhali. On Sunday, several shops were shut on the beach in her honour.

A tourist approached Biswas 15 days ago to help trace Ganu’s family. “Since the tourist was in Kolkata, I got in touch with two civic volunteers from Bakkhali,” said Biswas.

Unfortunately, the 67-year-old Adivasi woman could not provide any information about her past except that she was from a place called ‘Charabasti’. Biswas traced that to ‘Chorabasti’ in Jharkhand.

During conversations with Ganu, it came up that she was a Bauri and her husband loved football. These two leads clicked and the village head confirmed that Umapada Bauri lived in Chorabasti but had left after remarriage. “We traced Ganu’s daughters to a village and it took a video call to make the village head believe Ganu was alive,” said Biswas.

Additional SP of Sunderbans police Rakesh Singh was present when the family was reunited on Sunday. SP Bokaro and the local SDPO, too, have pledged support to Ganu.

Source: Times of India

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