The constable noticed that the girl cried only in police personnel’s arms, but calmed down once she was passed to the woman; the mother tried to pass her off as an abandoned child because she was unable to take care of her; the police have let her off with a warning
Nothing escapes police constable Rajesh Pandey’s eye. The attentive Malad cop foiled a 24-year-old woman’s attempt to pass her daughter off as an abandoned child after he noticed how attached the toddler was to her.
Versova resident Pooja Harikishan Lohat arrived at the Malad police station, claiming that a woman at a fish market asked her to keep an eye over her child as she relieved herself, but never returned. Illustration/Uday Mohite
On Sunday evening, the woman — Pooja Harikishan Lohat — approached the Malad police station with a one-year-old girl in her arms. Since the toddler was crying, the officers attended to her first. The woman told the police that she was at the fish market near Malad station when a woman — aged 30-35 — asked her to mind the child while she relieved herself in the public toilet. Pooja claimed that she waited outside the toilet for hours, but the woman never came back for the child.
Police Sub-Inspector Manohar Sonawane with the one-year-old girl
Pooja gave the police a description of the child’s mother and asked them to find her. The police officers took down her statement and began a search of her mother.
Child gave her away
As the officers got busy with initiating search operations, Pandey’s attention was drawn to the toddler’s ‘odd’ behaviour.
“When she was with us, the girl started crying. But when she was in the woman’s arms, she immediately stopped crying. That seemed odd considering that the woman and the child were strangers,” says the constable who is n charge of investigations on missing children.
Pandey told his on-duty senior, Sub-Inspector Manohar Sonawane, about it. The police then changed their tack and told Pooja that they would put the child under the care of an orphanage and offered to drop her home.
That’s when the truth came tumbling out. Pooja told the police she was unable to take care of her daughter and hoped that the girl could have a better future elsewhere. “She said she resides in Versova with her husband’s father, elder brother and sister-in-law. She said her husband is a drug addict who often beats her up,” said Sonawane.
Moved by the woman’s plight, the police called her parents to the station and let her off with just a warning.
Pandey to the rescue
Sunday wasn’t Rajesh Pandey’s first brush with abandoned children. The constable from the 1993-batch of the Maharashtra Police has been part of several rescue operations across the country to trace over 250 missing children and as many adults since 2011.
Since the last two years, he has been posted to the Malad police station.
According to Pandey, he has been part of missions like Vishesh Muhim and Operation Muskaan. He says since his posting at the Malad police station, he has rescued over 150 children. “My work is fulfilling. I get the blessings and love of people during rescue operations,” said a chuffed Pandey.