• Ankit was homeless since his father was jailed
  • He sold balloons and tea in street to earn a livelihood
  • He slept on pavements with his dog, "Danny"

The heart-rending picture of a homeless Indian boy made many internet users count their blessings. The boy, identified only as Ankit, was seen sleeping outside a closed shop with only his dog for company.

The picture shot in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh quickly gained viral fame. Ankit has been homeless ever since his father was jailed. His mother had abandoned him. He was forced to live on pavements with his only friend, “Danny.” According to The Times of India, Ankit earns his livelihood by selling balloons and tea in the street and spends his whole day’s wages feeding himself and Danny.

Danny is as loyal as it gets, never leaving Ankit’s side. According to The Times of India, Ankit, who appears to be aged 9 or 10, has been living the homeless life for several years now.

How Ankit’s story came to light?

Fifteen days ago, a local photojournalist snapped the picture of Ankit and posted it on social media, where it went viral online in no time, prompting authorities to trace the child. It was only on Monday morning that Ankit was eventually spotted. The search operation was led by Muzaffarnagar Senior Superintendent of Police Abhishekh Yadav, according to the TOI.

Ankit is now under the care of the district police. "Now, he is under the care of Muzaffarnagar police. We are trying to trace his loved ones and his pictures were sent to various police stations in adjoining districts. We have also alerted the district women and child welfare department," Indiatimes quoted Yadav as saying.

"Ankit is now under the care of the district administration of Muzaffarnagar. He was residing safely with a family. He is healthy, fit and happy. All efforts are being done to trace his family. Planning to enroll him in a school also. He is now in safe hands," local police said in a tweet.

The owner of the shop, where Ankit works at times, described Ankit as having high morale and his dog, "Danny," as his loyal confidant. "The dog would be sitting in a corner as long as the boy worked here. Ankit is self-respecting and would never take anything for free, not even milk for his dog," the shop owner told the TOI.

A homeless woman sits in a subway tunnel in New York on April 13
A homeless woman sits in a subway tunnel in New York on April 13 GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / SPENCER PLATT