A 10-year-old boy, who was allegedly kidnapped to beg for alms on the streets, was rescued on Wednesday after the boy managed to call his father using a mobile phone he found with the kidnappers.
According to officers at Deonar police station, the boy identified as Mirza Baig was playing outside his Deonar residence on May 12 when a man claiming to be a maulana approached him and asked him if he wanted to go see a dargah.
Mirza, the Std V student fell for his trick and tagged along. The unidentified man took the boy to Vashi and gave him some food to eat before taking him to Belapur. The same night, after being unable to locate his son, Mumtaz Baig lodged a missing person complaint with the police station.
On May 13, the man who claimed to be a maulana took Mirza to Colaba and dropped him off at the Qadir Shah Dargah and left him in the custody of Devidas Mehetre (54) and Roza Momin (38).
The police officers also said that the boy could have been fed something that affected his memory, as he couldn’t recognise anyone.
On Monday, Mirza found Mehetre’s phone lying on the sofa and dialed his father’s number, which he had memorised earlier. Mirza told his father that he was going to Dubai. Mumtaz went to the police station to inform the police about the call from an unidentified number.
“We knew that the boy might have been scared and ranted on the phone. However, when we dialed the number, the phone was switched off,” said PI Pandit Thackrey, from the Deonar police station.
The police later tracked the location through call data record and found that it was made from Qadir Shah Dargah in Colaba.
The police officers reached the spot and arrested Mehetre and Momin. “The two have told us that they didn’t know the maulana and when the boy came to them his clothes were torn. In fact they even provided him with new clothes and took care of him,” said Thackrey.
The police now suspect that Mehetre and Momin may also be a part of the kidnapping plan as they didn’t inform the nearest police station about the child.
“We are investigating the duo’s role in the entire begging racket. The boy has told us that the maulana wanted him to beg but the child was distraught and even refused to recognise his father. Only after a few hours of counseling could he identify his father and narrated the entire incident,” added Thackrey.