He dreamt of flying to Dubai but 11-year-old Sameer Bagoda’s parents abandoned him at the airport here, gave him Rs 500 and told him to head back to his hometown of Satara in neighbouring Maharashtra.
Sameer was, earlier this week, found abandoned at Goa’s only international airport at Dabolim, 40 km from capital Panaji, sobbing and anxious to see his parents again.
According to police, Sameer had arrived at the airport with his parents, Shivani and Shobha Bagoda, on Tuesday afternoon.
“They told him that the family was flying to Dubai. He was excited. But when they reached the airport, they gave him Rs 500 and asked him to head back to Satara, abandoning him there,” a police officer connected to the mysterious case told IANS.
The officer, who has access to Sameer’s statement, recorded in the presence of a counsellor, claims that the Bagoda trio had travelled from Satara to Goa by train a day earlier.
A confused and scared Sameer was first noticed by security personnel outside the Dabolim airport with a small bag containing eatables and clothes.
When airport officials tried to speak to him, he appeared frozen, almost in shock, unable to give any personal details to his friendly interrogators.
It took a while to break the ice. That’s when he revealed details like his name, how he landed there and the names of his family members.
“We know that he is from Satara, because he has repeatedly told us about some landmarks there,” the officer said.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Lawrence D’Souza, who is in charge of the Vasco sub-division, said police had immediately contacted their counterparts in Satara but there had been no response.
“We are still waiting for a response. If they do not respond soon, we will decide on an alternative course of action,” D’Souza told a news agency.
What has exacerbated the problem is police inability to track down the boy’s parents using the network of CCTV cameras installed in the airport premises.
With the help of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and aided by Sameer, the police scanned nearly all the footage ranging from the time the boy claims he was dropped off till the flight to Dubai later in the afternoon.
“There is no track of his parents’ names on flight manifests too. We expanded the CCTV search from the lobby to the security clearance and boarding area for the Dubai flight and later widened it to cover all other flights, but to no avail,” an officer said.
Police are now in the process of checking hotel records and train departure lists to check if the couple is listed anywhere. A team is also expected to leave for Satara to verify the landmarks mentioned by the boy and scout for his address, even as Sameer continues to be shell-shocked and is being counselled.