Around 2 pm on Wednesday, a semi-luxury bus run by the MSRTC departed from Mumbai Central towards Pune (Swargate). At 2.30 pm, it reached Dadar (East), where a couple boarded the bus. They had a two-and-half-year old girl with them. Another passenger Ashok Gadre also got in. The girl was crying continuously, calling out “Daddy, daddy”. Gadre, in his late 40s, found this suspicious. Text: Vinay Dalvi
Around 3.10 pm, the police control room got a call that an MSRTC bus had a couple carrying a two-year-old girl whom they had seemingly kidnapped.
The information was relayed to the traffic and local police at Priyadarshini signal and they intercepted the bus, asking the driver Chandrakant Sonawane to take the bus to the Chunabhatti police station.
The couple was told that they (police) had gotten information that they had kidnapped the child and were asked for proof to show that the child was theirs. “When I was told this, I couldn’t stop laughing,” said Rahim Shaikh, the father of the baby who works in a mall at Pune.
The Chunabhatti police then called up Ashok Gadre to alight from the bus and asked him the reasons for his suspicion. “Since the time I got into the bus, the baby had been crying out ‘Daddy daddy’. Why would a child cry for her father when she was already with him? I thought something was amiss and informed the authorities,” Gadre told the police.
The police lined up Gadre and the couple. The two parties were brought face to face to corroborate the facts of the circumstances.
Shaikh narrated the facts. “My wife Sabhiya and my daughter Umera had come to stay with her parents. The girl referred to her grandfather (Sabhiya’s father) as ‘daddy’ and began crying. “We wanted to verify Shaikh’s claims and called his father-in-law,” said Sunil Kadam, police sub-inspector of Chunabhatti police station.
The entire saga caused a two-hour delay that inconvenienced other passengers. “My daughter is pregnant and I am going to meet her, as she is likely to deliver anytime soon. While being alert is good, he should’ve at least told the other passengers or perhaps have asked the family first before calling the police,” said Sunaina Pawar, a passenger of the bus. Driver Sonawane agreed, “I had started my day at 4 am. I have wasted two hours of my precious time and all other passengers’ time has also been wasted.”