Mumbai Crime: Desperate for younger sister, 24-yr-old kidnaps 7-yr-old

Rambilal Prajapati told Pant Nagar cops he committed the crime because he was desperate for a younger sister; an alert traffic cop nabbed him in the wee hours of yesterday at Thane station

Thanks to the presence of mind shown by a traffic police constable Zuber Tamboli, a seven-year-old girl was rescued from the clutches of her kidnapper in the wee hours of yesterday at Thane station. The minor was abducted from outside her residence in Kamrajnagar, Ghatkopar, on May 27 by Rambilal Prajapati.

Traffic constable Zuber Tamboli (in green) recognised the girl from a video clip of the kidnapping. He nabbed Rambilal Prajapati and rescued the minor
Traffic constable Zuber Tamboli (in green) recognised the girl from a video clip of the kidnapping. He nabbed Rambilal Prajapati and rescued the minor

Initial investigation revealed that 24-year-old Prajapati hails from Uttar Pradesh and had been residing in Pant Nagar for the last two months. What stumped the cops most was the bizarre explanation he gave for committing the crime.

Prajapati told the police that he kidnapped the girl as he did not have a younger sister and wanted to take her back to his hometown in UP. Inspector Rajesh Kevle from Pant Nagar police station said, “A detailed investigation is yet to be carried out in this case.

For now, the accused claims that the only reason he kidnapped the girl was that he was desperate for a younger sister.”

The kidnapping
Prajapati said he kidnapped the girl from outside her residence around 8 pm. The girl’s parents, after failing to locate her in the vicinity, had then approached the Pant Nagar police and lodged a missing person’s complaint.

During scrutiny of CCTV footage recorded from a camera installed at a shop near their residence, the minor was seen walking away from the house with a stranger. Pant Nagar police circulated this footage on various social media platforms, including WhatsApp, to their counterparts across various departments to help them find the minor.

Rescue operation
Around 5.30 am yesterday, Tamboli was waiting at Thane station to catch a train to Ambernath, where he was supposed to meet his relatives. They were supposed to go to Pune to attend an engagement.

It was here that he saw Prajapati roaming from one platform to another with the girl. Tamboli said this raised his suspicion and he immediately checked the video clip, as he thought the girl looked similar to the one who was kidnapped. When he realised that it was the same girl, Tamboli intercepted the duo on platform no 2 and nabbed Prajapati.

Despite repeated requests to help him subdue Prajapati, who was trying to flee from Tamboli’s clutches, none of the onlookers helped him. Only after he disclosed that he was a traffic cop did the bystanders step up and help him overpower the accused.

Senior Inspector Shankar Dhanawade from Pant Nagar police station said, “Circulation of the CCTV footage on social media, especially WhatsApp, helped us apprehend the accused. While the accused had changed his clothes, the girl was wearing the same clothes she was last seen in.

This helped Tamboli identity her.” Soon after her rescue, the minor was reunited with her family and sent to Rajawadi Hospital for a medical check-up. Prajapati was booked under Section 363 (kidnapping) of the Indian Penal Code and will be produced in the court today.

Speaking to mid-day Tamboli said, “I was standing on the rail overbridge, trying to figure out the platform on which my train would be arriving. It was here that I spotted the little girl with her kidnapper. They kept moving from one platform to another. I smelled a rat and immediately checked the video clip I had received on WhatsApp.

This helped me ascertain that it was the same girl, who was kidnapped four days ago. Initially, nobody helped me hold down the accused when he was desperately trying to run away. It was only after I told other commuters that I was a cop, did a few of them help me. We handed him over to the Thane traffic police and he was later taken to the Pant Nagar police station.”

- Inputs by Sagar Rajput

Fears laid to rest
The girl’s father Sunil Gupta (36), a vegetable vendor, said, “We had registered the complaint on the night of May 27, after we failed to locate our daughter. I kept visiting the police station, hoping for some news about her. But would return home empty-handed.

However, on Sunday morning, when I was about to leave for the police station, I received a call from an officer claiming that my daughter had been found. The officer gave her the phone and she responded ‘haan papa’ when I addressed her by the nickname given to her by the family members. My joy knew no bounds.

When I reached the police station and asked her where had she been for the last four days, she said they spent their nights at railway stations and would travel during the daytime. Her medical reports are normal. We feared the kidnapper would mistreat her in captivity. All our fears have now been laid to rest.”

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