IDUKKI: A month after a toddler fell off a moving jeep at night in a wildlife-infested area of Eravikulam national park but miraculously survived, it turns out that the story put out by the forest department as to what transpired is false.
Fresh footage obtained by police shows one-year-old Rohita crawling towards the lighted check-post but what followed doesn’t show the forest guards in flattering light.
#WATCH Kerala: A one-year-old child falls out of a moving car in Munnar region of Idukki district. The girl child was later rescued and handed over to the parents. (08.09.2019) pic.twitter.com/tlI7DtsgxU— ANI (@ANI) September 9, 2019
Initial footage of the incident on the night of September 8 that went viral had shown the child being cuddled by anxious forest guards, and the forest department was quick to take credit for the ‘rescue’.
What really happened was that the guards, who are residents of nearby Edamalakkudy tribal grama panchayat, were scared out of their wits when they suddenly saw the child on the road – fearing that the tiny figure, tonsured and without clothes, headed their way was a ‘ghost’, they fled.
In fact, autorickshaw driver Kanakaraj (60), who providentially happened to come along, was the one who picked up the child from the road and carried her to safety.
Kanakaraj, a resident of Nayamakkad estate in Tata-owned KDHP plantations in Munnar, has given a statement to Munnar police.
“Earlier, we got CCTV footage that showed the child crawling towards the check post. But some parts of the footage were blank. The forest department had not released those visuals. The original video clearly shows the auto driver lifting the toddler from the road and handing her over to the forest department officials,” said a senior police officer in Munnar, who didn’t want to be identified, said. “Auto driver Kanakarj has given a statement and we are further probing the issue,” the officer added.
Rohita and her parents were returning from a trip to the famous Palani temple, where shaving off one’s hair is a ritual, when she slipped from her sleeping mother’s lap and fell on the road at 5th mile forest check post in Rajamala near Munnar around 9.40 pm. The parents realised that the child was the missing only when they reached their house at Mullarikudy after covering a distance of over 40km.
After she was picked up from the road, Rohita was admitted to Munnar Tata Tea hospital and later handed over to her parents in the presence of Munnar wild life warden R Lakshmi. Munnar police had filed a case against parents of the toddler.