A teenager who went missing in 2010 has been found 11 years later living a few hundred metres away from her family.
Sajitha was just 18 when she disappeared from her home in Ayalur village in Palakkad, India, over a decade ago, with her family having given up hope of her return.
However, it turns out she had been living just 500 metres away with her boyfriend Alinchuvattil Rahman.
According to the Indian Express, the man’s mother also lived with him, but was unaware his partner was in the house because he insisted on keeping his bedroom locked.
Sajitha reportedly kept herself entertained by watching a small TV, using headphones to prevent her partner’s family from hearing.
Rahman’s family had recently been trying to find a wife for him, and while he didn’t reject the idea, his brother Basheer said he would evade the issue.
He said: “Sometimes he behaved like a mentally deranged person, would turn violent if someone tried to get into his room.
“He would even take his food in to eat… During the day, as everyone was at work, Rahman and Sajitha would have the house to themselves.”
A neighbour added: “What we understand is that he had removed a few bars from his room’s window.
“There was no attached toilet and hence Sajitha would go out through the window at night, or when the parents were away.”
Three months ago, Sajitha left her boyfriend’s home on the same day he had an argument with his family and ran away.
The pair moved to another village, where it’s thought they planned to start again.
However, Rahman’s family filed a missing person report, and a chance sighting of the couple by Basheer led to the bizarre truth being revealed.
Speaking about the case, Nenmara Police Station House Officer Deepa Kumar A said Sajitha and Rahman kept their relationship hidden because they came from different religious backgrounds.
“Their story sounds unusual, but we took the couple to Rahman’s house and they told us how Sajitha had lived secretly in a single room for all these years,” he said.
With Sajitha having not been seen in so long, most people came to the conclusion she wasn’t coming back.
Kumar added: “Everyone thought she might have eloped with someone to Tamil Nadu.”
The couple appeared before a local court, which allowed them to live together after Sajitha said she wanted to live with Rahman.