MUMBAI: Four siblings, including three girls, who had run away from their Andheri (East) home on May 26, were found at Madhav Bal Ashram in Gwalior eight days later. The MIDC police had registered a case of kidnapping to locate them. The siblings, aged 18, 15, 8, and their 11-year-old brother, sold their old school books and household scraps to gather money for the journey.
The police were able to find the children at the Ashram after identifying a person whose mobile phone the kids used on the Punjab Mail train to call their friend, Riyaz, in Uttar Pradesh.The children had even convinced their 35-year-old mother to travel with them initially. She got off the train at Khandwa railway station in Madhya Pradesh after understanding their plan.
“The mother got off the train thinking that the kids would follow her. However, they didn’t, and the train left the station,” said an officer from MIDC police station. “When the mother returned to Andheri alone on May 28, her husband and family members filed a case of kidnapping against an unknown person.”
Taking the case seriously, DCP (Zone X) Mangesh Shinde supervised four teams. These teams, led by ACP Shashikant Bhosale, senior inspector Satish Gaikwad, inspector Tukaram Koyande, assistant inspector Yash Palwe, and sub-inspector Rahul Patil, discovered that the siblings had contacted a friend in UP using a mobile phone borrowed from a passenger who deboarded at Gwalior.
“This information helped authorities track the children’s location,” said a police officer. The siblings revealed they ran away due to harassment from their father and left a note, stating, “they should not be handed over to their father if he comes to take their custody.”
The police team reviewed about 80 closed-circuit television (CCTV) footages at Jaipur railway station and in the city before locating the children at the Ashram. They had enrolled there with the help of an individual.
The eldest sibling, an 18-year-old first-year commerce student, wrote to the Ashram, stating that they would not return if their father came to pick them up. Their uncle accompanied the police to take their custody. “The four siblings were produced before the Child Commission and will be counselled before they are brought to Mumbai,” said the officer.