BY Rashmi Talwar
Four Sikh boys came in a white ‘Maruti’ van with tinted glasses, one stepped out, picked lil Giandeep@Richie from a cycle Rikshaw in the cantonment area of Amritsar, that fateful morning of August 19, 1996 and the “world came crashing down” for Dr Hardeep Singh and his wife Mrs Harpreet Kaur.
“Our Lives Changed Forever,” says Harpreet whose younger son Gaindeep only 5- years, was kidnapped that morning. “For past 14 years there has not been a moment’s peace, not a happy time that we really enjoyed. By taking our son the four, have permanently wiped the smiles off our faces.
I knew that, asking them to relive the incident was going to hurt, but I moved forward, as I left myself no choices.. “THIS had to be done and SHARED !”
IT HAPPENED ……
Dr Hardeep opened layers of his child’s memorabilia, showed us his ‘last’ school bag that was left behind in the rikshaw when 4-kidnappers– all young, came with muffled faces. The poor rikshaw walla showed courage, scuffled and caught the main kidnapper’s leg, who kicked him with the second leg and made off with the child. The only witness to this, is the rickshaw wala, a woman selling corn on the roadside and an employee of a school.
Giandeep, being the youngest was sitting in the middle of five older children. The petrified children ran off following this..” , wiping his tears, he continued — ” I was at the time writing thesis at the Library of Government Medical college, Amritsar when some known people came and whisked me off home without telling me anything on the way.
When they said “Richie is Kidnapped’ I felt the earth had given way under me. Ever since sleep has evaded us, we have shattering dreams and in some we see Richie smiling and we long to hold him in our arms, hug and kiss him everywhere…..
ONLY 5 DAYS BEFORE HIS B’DAY ……
As the father showed us Giandeep’s school notebooks and report card, he pointed to the rank ..” See Giandeep was brilliant, stood first in his class in nursery and only joined the Junior Study School, Amritsar in the April of that fateful year 1996.
Just as, we were preparing to celebrate his 5th B’day that falls on 24th August, with this two favourite songs “Akhiyan milaon, kabhi akhiyan jhukaon , kia tu ne kia jaddoooooooo……” and “Mai hi Mai, munder pe Bol raha hai Kaga….”, which he sang with a multicolored umbrella on his head …, he was abducted.
Remembering every small detail about him, the father says.. “He Called me ‘Dey Da’, said he resembled me and not his mom, otherwise a quiet boy, very obedient, organized in everything , would polish his shoes everyday, refuse to wear an unwashed garment, loved combining red with his blue jeans. And oh! he was left- handed , Very fair complexioned ,had a black spot in his left eye and a prominent 1 ½ inch birthmark on his upper left thigh .” Surprisingly, No Ransom call was ever received.
HE IS ALIVE
Holding a lil school craft, the mother showed “Giandeep had made this in school”. Opening a pencil box, she peeped, “See how neatly he kept his pencils, sharpner, eraser and color box..”. He loved coloring and could solve addition and subtraction sums, even before he joined school, by watching his elder brother Chandandeep Singh @Honey.
“If we ever scolded Honey, he would take up for his brother….”That’s the kind of boy we lost ..How can we be at peace, knowing that he is still ‘alive’ somewhere?
How do you know that ? …The mother answered quietly ,” Every astrologer we approached, said he is alive and well’ .
Joining in with his wife, the father said, “So much so, that I studied astrology as a 2-year degree course started in a local college and topped the exam. Other than indicating that he is alive and well I could read nothing more in Giandeep’s birth charts, it did not give me any other clue’, he lamented. The kidnappers could have left him in a train bogey, or a street in any city …we don’t know. But we know he is alive.
Dr Hardeep suddenly rushed in and came up with an old diary. He pointed out how he had documented every ‘First’ visit of his son to a gurdwara , a dear friend’s Suman Sharma’s place who stood with him through the thick and thin of looking for Giandeep . Not only this, he had carefully noted down the ‘MUKH VAK’ (First Verse from Guru Granth Sahib) of the day, of his every first visit in gurdwaras in Tarn Taran, Mohali (Nanke ), Goindwal (where he was born), Chandigarh, .
When he was born and the first time we went to a Gurdwara with him, the VAK was —
“Tum daate Thakur pritpalak nayak khasm hamare
Nimak nimak tum hi pritpalo hum baarik tumre Dhare “.
It is strange and an irony , that I suspect the family of my aunt, to have a hand in this kidnap. The aunt alongside whom I prayed for a child and who remained childless for a long time, until at a place of worship I was chosen as an ideal family member to tie the ‘maanat mauli’ (sacred thread). Soon after, she (my aunt) bore her first son, followed by the birth of a daughter. I suspected this very son of my aunt and his friends kidnapped my child. And what a harsh stroke of fate that this very son of my aunt died in a traumatic incident of drowning a few years back .….
WE WILL LOOK FOR HIM ..WE WILL FIND HIM ….. was all we could say…..