Missing boy’s 24-hour ordeal ends

The boy, who is now recuperating at Nadha Hospital, has been widely circulating on the social media websites. Photo –Supplied photographs

Muscat: It was a big relief for his shattered parents — as well as for countless other anxious residents — ­­as Noel Sam Abraham, the Indian School Darsait Class-X student who went missing from the Wadi Kabir Lulu Hypermarket parking lot on Friday night, was later found early yesterday morning on a hill behind the same hypermarket. Left tied with ropes when he was finally located, he is under medical observation at Al Nadha Hospital, according to family friends.

"He is recovering. Early this morning, he was frequently lapsing into unconsciousness. But later on, his condition improved," Philip Thomas, a close friend of Noel's father, told Times of Oman.

After the boy was found by Lulu employees and the police on the hill behind the hypermarket, he was rushed to Al Nadha Hospital. During the day, he was taken to Qurum Police Hospital and was later returned to Al Nadha.

"There was evidence of insect bites and needle marks. His body was dehydrated," Philip added. According to Philip, the boy reportedly told his father and the police that he had been forcibly taken by three people from his family's car. "He said he was not given food and water for the last 24 hours."

Meanwhile, according to sources, police officials have launched an intensive probe into the case.

"They have collected evidence from the crime scene, where the boy was found, and have inspected the car twice. The police took the boy's statement too," family friends said.

Early yesterday morning, Lulu employees found the boy lying near the tower on the mountain behind the hypermarket. "Empty cartons and stones were placed around the area where he was lying, with his hands and legs tied with ropes," family friends claimed.

Police, family friends, and social workers had launched a frenzied hunt for Noel, when he went missing from his family's car. He had been sitting alone and preparing for his board examinations, while his parents and younger brother were shopping at the hypermarket. When his parents returned to the car at around 11 p.m., they found him missing. A torn piece of his shirt and his scattered study materials indicated he had been forcibly removed from the car.

The family immediately informed the police of his disappearance. The Royal Oman Police investigators had collected fingerprints from the car and had even brought along the dog squad to pick up on any possible trail.

Noel's disappearance was the second case in a week involving Indian school students. Last week, a 12-year-old girl escaped from two abductors after they forcibly spirited her away in a bus to a dwelling in Wadi Kabir. The brave girl led the police to the two suspects, who are now in custody.

Parents-board meeting
Meanwhile, a group of parents of Indian school students met the  school's board of directors yesterday and raised their concerns on the safety of schoolchildren.
"They have assured us that they will put in more efforts to tackle the issue of child safety. We are pinning our hopes on them," Wilson George, a parent, remarked.

The parents have alleged that a lack of determination among school authorities in controlling the transport system is causing major problems for them.

"Last week, a schoolgirl luckily escaped because of her bravery. Two months ago, a student was hit by a bus. A few months ago, a student died when a school bus met with an accident. So, we are worried, and we have sought a more supportive attitude from the school officials," a parent said.


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Reader Comments

wait to hear if the abductors were found !

It is really shocking and heart breaking. Poor child. Capital punishment should be given to the culprits. Nowadays there are lots of drug addicts we can see on the road. Police authority should put them behind the bars. Everybody is scared to send their children outside. Therefore severe punishment should be given to such antisocial people and it should be a message to the others also.

The evidence of needle marks on the boys body, indicate that perhaps he was drugged to be abused, I would be relieved if the medical examinations prove that he wasnt, if otherwise it is very very unfortunate for the child and his parents. I urge the readers not to leave their children unattended especially at public places.

It is very sad to know this type of crime in Oman. All the institutes, residences, and commercial areas have to be given higher protection and safety measures should be taken.

Culprits should be severely punished in the public area as a lesson to others.

I think it is the high time that , LIGHTS and CAMERAS has to be installed urgently in all the parking areas/public places to prevent this type of social evils from repeating in the future. This will definitely give a greater level of safety to the children and ladies. Also each school has to have their own school buses with minimum two staffs (trained staffs) in it to take care , & pick and drop the school children from home to school and back to home.

It is indeed very shocking to hear such news from a peaceful country like Oman. The below comment is very true. There should be more security persons and devices in schools.

In a weeks time two different cases of kidnapping. Being a father of two girls I was completely shocked and shaken and couldnt believe such an incident could happen in Oman. The first incident where the girl was kidnapped was lucky to escape from the clutches of kidnappers while the boy not so lucky was held captive for almost 24 hours without food and water. What might be the mental state of the boy and his parents during this 24 hours? What have they done wrong that they have to go through such trauma?

After few weeks we might forget these incidents but these incidents have left a permanent scar on victims and their families mind. A collective approach is required to prevent such cases in future.

1. School should take the responsibility for the transportation of students.
2. CCTV should be installed covering inside corridors and perimeter of the school building.
3. The buses that are used for transportation of students should be without curtains and should have fixed routes. Buses if possible should have GPS installed and any deviation from fixed routes should send an alert to school authorities.
4. Buses should have well trained drivers along with lady supervisor.
5.Students should be allowed to carry location tracking device to school. The moment student leave the school the parents should get an alert.
6. Parents should create awareness among their children.
7. Parents should not leave their children in car unattended.
8. The culprits should be punished severely. This will serve as strong deterrence.

The news about Noel rejoining his family was indeed a big relief for everyone, especially those who are having school-going children. The week was so disturbing and tensed throughout. The recent incidents have prompted many parents, especially mothers, to turn up to school to pick up their children after the examinations.

The next course of action is to find the perpetrators behind it and a serious thought on steps to be initiated to prevent recurrence of similar happenings in the future. Those who are responsible to ensure safety of children must look into all possible ways to stop such incidents repeating. Though it’s a collective responsibility of everyone involved to ensure safety of our children, it is strongly felt that more control measures are to be put in place to ensure an effective transport system for school-going children.