Family worried as autistic boy goes missing

Anshuman Joshi
Filed on July 16, 2010

The past four days have been an unending nightmare for a Pakistani family. They havenít been able to eat, or sleep, as they await that one phone call that will give them the whereabouts of their missing son.

Mazzminaz Saleh Mohammed, a 20-year-old autistic boy, went missing from his house in Sharjah, and despite all attempts, is yet to be traced.

“We have looked everywhere, and asked everyone we know, from friends to relatives and nobody has a clue. We have called up every hospital in the UAE, and there are no records of anybody matching my brother’s description who has been admitted,” says Nayab Minaz, the boy’s sister.

According to her, the last time she saw her brother was at 11.30am last Saturday while he was waiting for his brother-in-law in the building’s lobby. “I had to take my father to the hospital. He is a heart and kidney patient and undergoes dialysis twice a week. I remember seeing my brother sitting on the steps like he always did if he was waiting for someone to come back home. Even my neighbour saw him.” However, when the brother-in-law came back, Mazzminaz was no longer there and that was when panic set in. “You see because of his autistic condition, he really is not very good at communicating with people. At home, he prefers to sit silently and watch us talk. So even if he came across someone who wanted to help, we doubt it if he would be able to express himself clearly enough to get help,” she says, mirroring the family’s dilemma. Nayab Minaz claims that the family has filed a First Information Report (FIR) with the Buheirah Police Station in Sharjah and that the authorities are investigating the case.

A senior officer at the police station confirmed that family had lodged the complaint, and police were searching for the young man. “Efforts are on to trace him and circulars on his condition and description have been sent to all police stations in all emirates as well as all hospitals. We are doing our job to return the young man safe to his family.’’

In the meantime, as the family searches frantically for Mazzminaz, his mother has been inconsolable, and his father, already in a fragile state of health, is doing poorly himself. Even the mobile phone that was given to Mazzminaz cannot be reached because it has been shut off. Describing her brother, Nayab says that he is a slow-learner and keeps to himself.

“He’s almost emotionally inactive as a result of primary autism, a condition we discovered only six years ago. We tried to send him to school, but that didn’t help too much, so we discontinued his studies,” she says. “But he’s good with mobile phones and likes to play computer games.”

For now however, what Mazzminaz’s family would really like is to have him back. “We are worried and confused. My brother is out there all alone and helpless. I hope someone can get him back,” says Nayab.

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