Says family of Mahim youth, who disappeared day before HSC exam; cops suspect he may be involved with anti-social elements, ATS involved in search

Ashraf Sayyed left from his Mahim home on February 27
Ashraf Sayyed left from his Mahim home on February 27

On the night of February 27, Mahim resident Ashraf Sayyed left from home saying he had to buy something from a nearby shop. That was the last his family saw of him. In the months since, the 20-year-old has been untraceable; his only mode of contact is his Instagram page. His disappearance has raised eyebrows of investigation agencies, who feel he has gotten involved with anti-social elements.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, the cyber police and local police are jointly investigating the matter. The Intelligence Bureau is helping them too. "We have made different teams; two teams are working in other states where anti-social elements are operating," said an ATS officer.

Ashraf used to reside with his mother and sister and was in standard 12 at a Mahim-based college. On 27 February he went missing after which he has never returned home. The family has said that if Ashraf has joined any anti-social elements, they will not accept him.

Active on Instagram
According to Ashraf's family members, his HSC were supposed to start from February 28. A day before, he was normal and preparing for his exam the next day. Around 9 pm, he left to buy something from a nearby shop. "He left home on February 27 and till today, he has not returned. He still messages on Instagram sometimes. He does not have a single rupee with him. Don't know what he might be doing and where he is," his uncle Fayyaz Chougle told mid-day. Ashraf has over 7 thousand followers on Instagram, where he still remains active and messages a few of his relatives sometimes.

The cops and his family have tried to contact him through the social networking site, but they haven't been able to get through to him. Interestingly, after he went missing, cops took his hall ticket and spoke to college authorities. Turns out, the ticket was fake; the college had never issued it to him. When asked if he may have joined anti-social elements, Fayyaz said, "If he has joined anti-social elements, then we won't accept him. But I suspect he is in some serious trouble."

'Behavioural changes'
Fayyaz said there were some behavioural changes in Ashraf. He would prefer being by himself and spent most of the time online. "His friend Saqib owns a cyber cafe, where he used to spend the entire day surfing the internet." The cops are questioning Saqib everyday. They have even taken the computers and other electronic equipment from Saqib's cyber cafe and are examining it. "We have questioned more than a hundred of his friends, but haven't got a clue. We are investigating the case with all possible angles," said Milind Idekar, senior police inspector, Mahim police station.

Fayyaz said, "I just want to send a message to Ashraf: wherever you are, please come back home. His mother was admitted to the hospital. The condition of the family is not good. We are just appealing to him to return home soon."

Left to join films and TV?
A police source said that Ashraf might be looking to get into the film and television industry, since he is a good-looking boy. One of the designated police teams is circulating his photo with sources in the industry to see if he has joined it.