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Mumbai auto guy saves the day for two teenage girls

Author: Bellie Thomas and Shashank Rao
Publication: Bangalore Mirror
Date:  February 17, 2020
URL:      https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/cover-story/mumbai-auto-guy-saves-the-day-for-two-teenage-girls/articleshow/74166274.cms


* Two days of wretched, sleepless nights for parents but all’s well that ends well

* Class 9 students of school in RT Nagar had run away from Bengaluru to become TV stars. They had just Rs 840 between them

Sonu Yadav, a 28-year-old auto driver, working at the newly inaugurated prepaid auto rickshaw stand at Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) was approached by two teenage girls from Bengaluru on Wednesday, February 12. They wanted to go to Balaji Telefilms, Andheri Lokhandwala. “I took them to this production house where they claimed they had been called for an interview. But the security guard informed them to drop their resumes with him and that there were no walk-in interviews,” said Yadav. Since they looked crestfallen, the auto driver advised them to call up someone inside the production house.

He also told them that he was ready to take them home, so that they could pick up their resumes and documents and then drop them. “This is when I felt there was something amiss. Both did not have any mobile phones. They made calls from my phone, but they got no answer. So I sternly asked them to reveal the truth or I would be compelled to take them to the police station,” said Yadav.

This is when the girls began to cry and told Yadav their story. Prathiksa and Ayesha (names changed), two 15-year-old girls studying in ninth standard at Little Angels Public School in Kanakanagar, RT Nagar had run away from their homes in Bengaluru on February 11, to pursue a career in acting.

With just Rs 840 between the two of them and no phones, they boarded the Lokmanya Tilak Express to Mumbai without tickets and managed to reach Mumbai.

On February 11, Ramesh Sharma (name changed) said he dropped his daughter, Prathiksha, to school, as usual. But when he went to pick her up at 3.30 pm, she was not to be seen. When the security guard of the school told him she may have gone home on her own, he rushed home. But he was disappointed when his wife said she had not reached home. He then went back to school to speak to her teachers and learned Prathiksha had been absent and so was her friend, Ayesha, who lived near their house.

“Off late, a few teachers had observed them talking to each other a little too much, most of the time secretly,” Prathiksha’s father told BM.

Sharma then headed to Ayesha’s house where he found that Ayesha’s parents were shocked and devastated that their daughter was missing too. Sharma went to the shop nearby and requested the shopkeeper to check his CCTV footage. “Their classes commence by 8.30 am, and the footage showed Prathiksha entering Ayesha’s gate in the morning. However, both were not seen coming out of the gate even after many hours,” Sharma told BM.
I did not charge them for the journey because I felt bad for them. To ensure that they would be safe, I made them sit inside the prepaid auto stand office which has CCTVs

— Sonu Yadav, auto driver at the Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Mumbai

Prathiksha’s father who is a contractor finally filed a complaint at the Hebbal police station the next day. The police took up a kidnap case and started investigations.

After two tense days, Prathiksha walked into her home on February 14 morning, in her red uniform, just as she had left two days ago. She told her father that she and Ayesha had gone to Mumbai to become TV actresses. “Ayesha had been searching on her mum’s phone for information on acting and audition for TV serials in Mumbai.

When she stumbled onto Balaji Telefilms, situated in Andheri West, they decided they were going there,” said Sharma. On February 11, Prathiksha and Ayesha went up to Ayesha’s terrace, changed out of their uniforms and put on burqas. From Ayesha’s terrace, they jumped onto the terrace of the adjacent building, climbed down the stairs and took an auto to the Bangalore East railway station.

Around 4 pm on February 11, they hopped onto the Lokmanya Tilak Express and entered the general compartment.

The following day, they reached the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Railway station in the afternoon. Exiting the station, they hailed an auto rickshaw and asked the driver to take them to Andheri West.

After getting them to spill the beans, Yadav brought them back to Kurla LTT. “I did not charge them for the journey because I felt bad for them. To ensure that they would be safe, I made them sit inside the prepaid auto stand office which has CCTVs,” added Yadav. He then took help from his fellow auto driver friend Gulab Gupta. The duo then got food for the girls and also purchased their return tickets.

When asked about the money spent, Yadav at first said that it did not matter but later revealed that he had spent about Rs 1400 on the girls. “I also spoke to their parents after they reached home. I am glad they reached safely,” added Yadav.

He also gave them his number to call him if they felt unsafe during the journey. The same night they left for Bengaluru and arrived at Bangalore East railway station around 10 pm on February 13. They took an auto rickshaw and reached Ayesha’s home around 11 pm. Ayesha’s parents told Prathiksha to spend the night at their house and return home the next morning. The next day, the Hebbal police summoned the girls and took a detailed statement from them before producing them before a magistrate at Mayo Hall court to close their missing case.

The girls were fortunate they returned unscathed and what 28-year-old Sonu Yadav did, can restore your faith in humanity.
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