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.
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.