Idukki: A 21-year-old Idukki native has been arrested after eloping with a minor. The couple spent 23 days in a forest in Kerala, and they survived by eating wild fruits, tubers and coconut. They lived under bamboo trees and rock caves. 

Manju disappeared from her home on January 6. She had told her family that she was attending special classes on Sunday at the local church. But, she joined Appu George on their rendezvous.

When she did not return home, her parents alerted the police and searches were conducted at several places including George’s residence in Melukavu.

Later, her parents approached the police station to file a missing case. It is also reported that there was a POCSO case filed against George for allegedly raping and impregnating a minor. That apart, he was also booked for stealing a bike.

A 75-member police team was formed to track George and Manju. As part of the investigation, the police followed Manju's mobile phone signal. But the police couldn't trace them because the couple shifted to the interiors of the forest.

On Tuesday, as the couple emerged out of the forest, the police team spotted them. It is alleged that the couple was carrying two sacks of fruits which they planned to sell in the local market, but as soon they saw the police, the couple ran in two directions.

While the police chased George, Manju ran to a house, where she was allegedly provided shelter for some days.

Later, the girl was produced before the high court. She then underwent a medical checkup at Kottayam medical college. It is also alleged that Manju's family refused to take her back. After being informed of this, the court has placed the minor under the care of the child welfare committee in Idukki district.