The girls, aged 11 to 14 years, went to their respective schools yesterday but did not return home, prompting police to fan out teams to Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Kakinada, Visakhapatnam and other parts of the state, to trace them.
"All the five girls were found in a lodge in Kakinada in the evening and have been handed over to their parents," Rajahmundry (Urban) SP Ravi Kumar Murthy told PTI. He said the girls ran away from their homes as they were admonished by their parents for "lagging behind in studies and not scoring good ranks".
"We counselled the girls and their parents at Bommuru police station before handing them over," the SP said. He said even though it appears to be an open-and-shut case, police are conducting a through inquiry to find out whether anybody instigated the girls to run away.
The girls have been identified as - Susham Sahani, Reshma Naidu and K Sidhu Jasmini (all aged 14) and studying in class VIII at Rajahmundry Chaitnya Techno School, Gayatrai Sowbahagya Lakshmi (14), a student of class VIII at Gouthami School, and Ashrita (11), studying in class VI at Divya School at Deevancharvu in Rajahmundry.
Police said the girls lied to the owner of the lodge, saying they had come to participate in the ongoing district sports tournament. However, the lodge staffers grew suspicious as the girls were not carrying any luggage except their school bags, and alerted police.
"On questioning, the girls told one Town police that they were admonished by their parents and class teachers for lagging behind in studies," police said, adding the girl had left their houses and boarded a bus for Kakinada last night.