India video reunites man with family after 40 years

BBC | Updated at 12:23pm on April 20, 2018

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Khomdram Gambhir Singh (right) was found living rough in Mumbai. — BBC photo

An Indian man who disappeared 40 years ago reunited with his family after his brother recognised him in a YouTube video that had gone viral.

Khomdram Gambhir Singh went missing from Manipur state aged 26 in 1978. His family heard nothing for decades.

Then they saw a video of him singing a Hindi song for money on a Mumbai street, 3,300kilemetres away.

The police helped trace Singh, a former soldier who was now 66. He was flown back to live in Manipur on Thursday.

‘I could not believe my eyes when one of my nephews showed me the video footage. We had lost all hope of seeing him alive again,’ Singh's brother Khomdram Kulachandra told The Hindu newspaper.

The police in Manipur traced Singh to Mumbai where he had been living rough.

Singh's family realised he might be living in Mumbai because Firoz Shakir, the street photographer who shot and shared the video last October, was based there.

‘He was making money as a beggar singing old Hindi songs,’ Shakir told AFP news agency.

Mumbai police were sent a photo of Singh by the police in the Manipuri capital Imphal and eventually tracked him down to the suburb of Bandra.

‘We found him outside a railway station. He was in a bad state, he was not well,’ inspector Pandit Thakaray told the BBC.