Sifat missed going out. There was a small open place in front of his house in Hatirjheel, where the four-year-old loved to play under his mother's watchful eyes.
For the last couple of months, he had been staying home and unable to step out as a precautionary measure against novel coronavirus.
Needless to say, the child was getting restless. Soon restlessness turned to sadness as he found out his father, Feroz Howlader, a construction worker who was out of work due to the ongoing shutdown, will not be able to buy any new dress for him this Eid.
Around 10am on Wednesday, a heartbroken Sifat went out of his home unnoticed. After realising that he went missing, the family searched for him everywhere but to no avail.
What transpired next was beyond their imagination.
Around 1:15pm, Feroz received a call on his cellphone; someone demanded Tk 50,000 from him, saying his youngest son has been abducted.
The family was devastated. Feroz did not know what to do. He had no source of income. Whatever money he had was borrowed from relatives and neighbours to support his four-member family.
Desperate, Feroz called Hatirjheel Police Station and informed Officer-in-Charge Abdur Rashid of the matter.
Later, he switched off his phone, fearing that the kidnapper may harm Sifat if they found out that he had sought police support.
Hearing about the incident, Deputy Commissioner of Tejgaon Division Police Biplob Bijoy Talukder located Sifat's home around 3:25pm and then took details of the child from the worried parents.
"This was the beginning of an eight-hour-long police drive to rescue Sifat," Hafiz Al Faruk, additional deputy commissioner of Tejgaon division, who coordinated the operation, told The Daily Star yesterday.
"We tried to trace kidnappers using technology and asked Feroz to continue negotiations. We traced their location in Demra first but within hours they started moving towards Savar," he said.
Accompanied by Feroz, a three-member police team started following them.
The kidnappers' final location was traced at Paturia Ferry Terminal in Manikganj and the police team reached there around 10:05pm, said ADC Hafiz.
The terminal was filled to the brim with people and vehicles as the ferry service remains suspended for the cyclone and to prevent people from going to their village homes, he said.
The police team, with Sifat's photograph in hand, started looking for him in the crowd.
Police asked Feroz to stay inside the vehicle so that kidnappers did not know about his presence, said Hafiz. "Around 11:40pm, the team finally found Sifat sleeping on a bench in front of a makeshift shop at the terminal."
Talking with Sifat, police came to know that a person named Milon took him away with a promise of giving him candy. "Milon used to work with Feroz as an assistance before the lockdown. Sifat also knew him. Milon fled sensing police presence," said ADC Hafiz.
"We have already collected details of Milon and are looking for him. A case was filed with Hatirjheel Police Station," he added.
The family was beyond grateful and couldn't thank the law enforcers enough. But most importantly, Sifat was back to his mother's arms.