Despite the alarming numbers, the police remain lax, leaving the families to investigate the disappearances
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. Alarmingly, sixteen kids have gone missing from the area under Bandra East’s Nirmal Nagar police station since the beginning of the year, even raising fears of a child trafficking racket; but for the police force they are only more cases. The force leaves it up to the parents to run around, investigate and recover the children.
The case of 14-year-old Heena Ilyas Quereshi is a perfect example. Quereshi, a student of Kherwadi Municipal School, went ‘missing’ on February 26. Her mother Saira ran from pillar to post, requesting the police to pursue the case assiduously. Even 40 days later, however, the cops do not have a clue about Heena’s whereabouts.
But Saira did not give up. Instead of relying on the police’s investigation, she conducted one of her own. “I discovered that a boy and his sister-in-law were very friendly with my girl,” said Saira, “and that the day when she was last seen, the sister-in-law had called my daughter to her house.”
She even helped the cops trace a friend of the said boy and alerted them of his whereabouts, but, she claimed, “The cops let him go without extracting any information from him.”
Not one to yield, Saira also traced back a series of missed calls to a STD booth in Delhi. When the cops refused to pursue the lead, she personally went looking. “The owner identified Heena, and the boy as Mujeebullah. But he is hand-in-glove with the boy, and so told me to go back. I gave the cops all the information I gathered from Delhi. They still have not done a thing,” said Saira. She intends to visit Delhi again.
Police Inspector Anil Pandagale of Bandra’s Nirmal Nagar Police Station, where the complaint was filed, refused to comment on Heena’s case. He has more questions to answer.
On April 4, 11-year-old Usman Sheikh, a resident of Naupada, left home at around 3:30pm, saying he was visting his uncle two buildings away. Usman never returned. “We called up Usman’s uncle in the evening and was told our child had not visited him,” said Usman’s mother Noor Jahan.
Although the family insisted it was probably a case of kidnapping, the cops filed a missing person’s complaint. “It has been three days and there has been no news about my son. I have looked everywhere, asked everyone and also visted the children’s home in Dongri, but nothing came off it,” said father Wali Shiekh.
“We have sent a wireless message in the city and will put up posters of the missing boy,” said inspector Pandagale. “In most cases, kids come back home themselves or we find them,” he said, adding some children have been reunited with their families. However, he could not give the details.
A police officer requesting anonymity told Mumbai Mirror that the cops usually do not take such cases very seriously and the families do all the legwork.