Eloped lovers survived on mangoes, coconut during 23-day stay in forest

Eloped couple survived on mangoes, coconut during 23-day stay in forest
The forest area near Ilaveezhapoonchira where the couple stayed for 23 days. Appu George in the inset.

Moolamattam: A young man and a girl who eloped and spent 23 days in the jungle have been caught. The police arrested Valyattil Appu George, 21, and the plus-two student from a forest near Melukavu in the eastern periphery of Kottayam district on Tuesday.

The girl underwent a medical checkup at Kottayam Medical College and was produced in the High Court. Since the girl’s family refuses to take her in, she will be produced in Peerumade Court today. Appu will be produced in the Thodupuzha Court. The police said Appu had taken the minor girl to the forests near Ilaveezhapoonchira after professing love.

The girl, who left home for Sunday class on January 6 never returned, said the family. The police searched the boy’s house at Melukavu, after a complaint from the girl’s family at Kumali station, but could not find either of them. The family then approached the High Court.

The district cybercell located the girl’s cellphone in the vicinity of the forest near Ilaveezhapoonchira. They searched the area with the help of locals and found Appu’s bike near Kolapra, Adoormala. But the two were not to be found. Utensils used to cook, oven, some clothes and the girl’s bag were found later in the forest. The two subsisted on coconut and mango, and slept on rock and in shades.

The two, however, were spotted by the police at Kolapra near Adoormala carrying sacks on Tuesday morning. Appu and the girl ran in different directions as the police team, hiding in Adoormala CSI parish hall, tried to nab them. While the police chased Appu, locals went after the girl, who ran into a house at Sharamkuthi where she was given food and water. Locals kept her in the house until the police arrived. Appu was caught as he tried to escape towards Anakkayam.

The police claimed Appu had reportedly trapped a few other minors in Kottayam and Idukki and ditching them later. He was arrested for raping a minor two years ago at Chingavanam. He had also been booked for stealing a bike near Moolamattom. Appu was stealing agricultural products from villages bordering the forest and selling them while in hiding.

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