Kerala officials, moved by the heartbreaking tale of a man who had stolen Rs 600 from a bank and escaped from jail, helped the 21-yesr-old migrant worker secure bail and return home to his family in Uttar Pradesh.
Hunger and love for his mother had prompted the stranded migrant to steal the measly amount, officials said
Stranded in a dfferent state due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown without a job, Ajay Babu was forced to beg on the streets for his survival at one point. So, it was a happy reunion for him when he reached his village in Uttar Pradesh's Hamirpur district on Monday afternoon, officials said.
It was made possible thanks to the collective efforts of some good samaritans in the Kerala jail department, a lawyer from Kasargod district and officials of the legal services authority who were sympathetic to the man's plight, they said.
He was given Rs 500 and two pairs of dresses and accommodated in a Delhi-bound train on Saturday from Kannur.
"Ajay Babu was received by his relatives at the Jhansi railway station on Monday morning. I also have a video and photos of him joining his mother and other relatives," Superintendent of Kannur Special Jail TK Janardhanan told PTI.
Facing starvation, Ajay Babu had entered a bank in Kerala's Kasargod town through its air vents and made away with Rs 600 from the cash box. He spent this money to get food from a nearby eatery and slept in the area as he did not even realise his crime.
He was arrested the very next day based on a CCTV footage and as per COVID-19 protocol on March 25 lodged in an isolation room in Kannur Central Jail from where he escaped a week later as he badly wanted to retrive his phone seized by the police so that he could speak to his mother, the official said.
He was later found lying unconscious near a railway track by locals and was taken into custody again. During interrogation, he narrated his ordeals from the time he landed in Kerala in March just ahead of the lockdown looking for a job.
The district jail authorities initiated steps to secure his release, under the provision of decongesting the jails due to COVID-19 lockdown, even though three of their colleagues were suspended and a temporary staff was sacked after Ajay Babu escaped from jail.
Hamirpur district police helped trace Ajay Babu's home address, TK Janardhanan said, adding that his family managed to send Rs 25,000 online for the bail bond.
Advocate Kumaran Nair, a noted lawyer from Kasargod district, extended free legal assistance to Ajay Babu for securing the bail in the bank theft case while legal services authorities helped him get relief in the jail escape case, availing him the benefit of decongesting prisons due to COVID-19 lockdown and releasing those facing petty crimes, TK Janardhanan said.