Updated: June 10, 2021 2:44:12 pm
AN 18-year-old who went missing from Ayalur village in Palakkad 11 years ago has been found living just 500 metres from her parent’s home, spending the past decade in a room with the man she was in love with. While his parents shared the house with him, they were reportedly unaware of the woman’s presence.
Sajitha, whose family had given up hope of ever finding her, was discovered after Alinchuvattil Rahman, now 34, himself suddenly went missing from his home three months ago, and his family filed a complaint. On Tuesday, his elder brother Basheer spotted him by chance, and the trail led back to Rahman and Sajitha, who were found living on rent in another village.
Police produced the couple before a local court, which allowed them to live together after Sajitha said she wanted to be with Rahman.
Nenmara Police Station House Officer Deepa Kumar A said Sajitha and Rahman kept their relationship hidden as they belonged to different religions and were afraid of a backlash. “Their story sounds unusual, but we took the couple to Rahman’s house and they told us how Sajitha had lived secretly in a single room for all these years.”
Sajitha left home one night in February 2010, and apparently just walked into Rahman’s house next door. Police looked everywhere, but could not find her. Sajitha didn’t have a mobile phone on her.
Kumar said they never suspected Rahman, then 24. “Nobody knew about their affair. In any elopement, both persons go missing,” he reasoned.
Basheer said Rahman, who works as a house painter, had a separate room, kept it locked, and never let anyone in. Since he was hot-tempered, the parents, who are daily wagers, rarely bothered with him, Basheer, who is a truck driver and lives separately, said. “Sometimes he behaved like a mentally deranged person, would turn violent if someone tried to get into his room. He would even take his food in to eat… During the day, as everyone was at work, Rahman and Sajitha would have the house to themselves.”
Basheer said Rahman had told them Sajitha would even dry her washed clothes inside the room.
Recently, the family started looking for a bride for Rahman, and while he didn’t object, he kept evading the issue, Basheer said.
Ayalur panchayat member Pushpakaran, a neighbour of Rahman’s parents, said he had always been an introvert and they suspected he had mental issues. “What we understand is that he had removed a few bars from his room’s window. There was no attached toilet and hence Sajitha would go out through the window at night, or when the parents were away,” Pushpakaran said.
Sajitha apparently kept herself entertained with a small TV, using earphones.
As per the inspector, the village had almost forgotten her. “Everyone thought she might have eloped with someone to Tamil Nadu.”
It is not clear why but three months ago, Sajitha finally left the house. The same day, Rahman picked up a quarrel with his family members and stomped out. The two then started living in another village.
Rahman told the court he was afraid of his family objecting to Sajitha. He didn’t elaborate on why the two decided on her staying locked in a room for 11 years.
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