Mother urges government to help trace missing son

Bangalore, Jan 9 (IANS) A distraught mother of 19-year-old Souvik Pal, missing from Manchester in Britain since Jan 1, Wednesday made an emotional appeal to the Indian government to help trace her elder son.

"I appeal to the prime minister, president, and chief ministers of Karnataka and West Bengal to help us in locating my son Souvik as we have not heard from him since Dec 31," his mother Mahuya told IANS here.

Suvik's father Shantanu Pal, a civil engineer in Saudi Arabia, has rushed to Manchester to help police search for his son, a student at Manchester Metropolitan University, 320 km from London, since September 2012.

"We first came to know Jan 2 that our son was not seen in the hostel after the New Year party. A complaint was lodged by Souvik's friends with police. It's nine days since he spoke to us," a tearful Mahuya said.

Souvik called his parents Dec 31 night to wish them a happy new year from Manchester and told them that he would be going to a new year party with his college and hostel friends at a nightclub.

"We too called back and wished him early Jan 1. That was the last time we spoke," Mahuya said.

Shantanu, who joined the Al Nahyan construction firm in Riyadh as product designer last year, was in Bangalore on year-end holiday.

The Pals, who hail from Midnapore in West Bengal, have lived here since 2002 when Shantanu came to join Swedish major ABB India energy firm as an engineer.

Souvik's brother Arkadyothi is a school student.

"It has been an agonizing wait as there is no sign of my son even after his father went to help the local police," Mahuya said.

Scotland Yard has joined the search for Souvik outside Manchester borough. The Indian high commission in London has stepped in to assist the rescue mission as his mobile handset has gone missing.

Police have used scuba divers to search nearby lakes and water bodies to check if anyone had drowned.

In a telecon from Manchester to a news channel here Wednesday, Shantanu said, quoting Souvik's friends, that his son was evicted from the nightclub by woman bouncers as he had mistakenly gone into a ladies' toilet in the absence of a signboard.

"His friends told me that they did not find my son outside the club after the party in the wee hours of January 1. When he did not turn up at the hostel, his friends lodged a missing complaint with the police and a search was launched," Shantanu said.

Footage from closed circuit television cameras at the nightclub and the nearby football stadium showed Souvik exiting from the club and walking into the stadium.

"After that, there is no trace of him coming out of the stadium or clues where he had disappeared. When police searched his hostel room, his laptop and other personal belongings were found but his mobile handset and camera were missing," Shantanu said.

Asked if he suspected foul play in his son's disappearance or racial discrimination as he was the only Indian to have been evicted out of the club by the bouncers, Shantanu said there was no evidence as such from his interaction with his friends and police.

"I would not like to pre-judge the case as search is on and investigation is continuing from all angles. No evidence of racism so far. That's secondary. Our priority is to know his whereabouts and locate him," he said.

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