Mumbai: Trip for Ganpati helps spot 4 of 5 missing girls in Kurla
Panvel resident who was heading to Dadar for festive shopping spots daughter of a former Colaba neigbour at Kurla station; the Std VIII students had run away from home after failing in two subjects
Saturday was a day of some relief for parents of five young girls who had gone missing from their South Mumbai school on Friday afternoon, as four of them were spotted at Kurla Railway Station and then brought back to Colaba Police Station where a missing complaint had been registered. The fifth one left the group at the station saying she is "going with a relative".
She returned home around 9.15 pm on Saturday. Deputy commissioner of police (Zone 1) Abhishek Trimukhe confirmed this. Other officers from the police station said she seemed tense and hence they would not be asking her what happened after Kurla railway station but they would verify her version soon.
Chirag Doshi and Pushpa Lata Deshmukh
From Marine Drive to Mahim
On Friday, it was open day at the SoBo school that the girls — all students of Std VIII — attend. And results of a recently held unit test showed that they had failed in maths and English. According to police and relatives, the five friends (their names have been withheld to protect their identity), fearing a harsh scolding from their parents, decided to run away. In the afternoon, as the school day ended, the five left from another gate, even as their parents waited at the main gate to pick them up.
The four girls told the cops on Saturday that, from school they took a taxi to Marine Drive. Having spent some time there, they walked over to Hanging Gardens at Malabar Hill. From there, they took a taxi to Mahalaxmi and later went to Mahim church. The girls claim that they spent the night here and on Saturday morning, they walked to Dadar railway station, from where they headed to Kurla station.
Chirag Doshi, who remembered them from Whatsapp forwards and called the cops, Pushpa Lata Deshmukh, the former neighbour who spotted one of the girls; a CCTV grab of the girls at Marine Drive
It was here that one of the girls was spotted by former neighbour Pushpa Lata Deshmukh, who has now shifted to Panvel. On her way to Dadar to purchase decorative material for the upcoming Ganpati festival, Deshmukh approached the girls and engaged them in small talk on platform number 4 at Kurla station. At the same time, a diamond broker Chirag Doshi, who had seen the girls' pictures on Whatsapp, saw them and called the cops even as he joined Deshmukh in the chat. "I brought water for the girls and, in the meantime, called the Colaba police," he said. The team reached the platform within 20 minutes, and took the girls back. Trimukhe said the cops would be verifying claims made by the girls.
The trauma of marks
The uncle of one of the girls said that when their daughter didn't return home till evening, the parents panicked and went to Colaba police station where they realised that parents of the four other girls had also come to lodge a complaint. The Colaba cops then looked at CCTV footage and realised that the five had left together at 2.28 pm.
Another girl's cousin said her father searched for her everywhere. "We visited Mahalaxmi temple and went all the way to Andheri. We visited various famous spots in the city but failed to find them." A 31-year-old neighbour who went to Kurla with the cops said when they found them, the girls were in a state of confusion. "Having fared poorly in the tests, they were too scared to go back home. They agreed to return only when we told them that we would be taking them to the Colaba police station and not to their parents," he said. He added that the girls told him that they had spent the entire night praying at Mahim Church and hadn't even eaten.
The parents, however, are in no mood to scold their daughters. One father, told mid-day that he'd asked his daughter to forget everything, saying "life is too short and from now on you should study well". One of the girl's aunts said the incident has made the adults realise the pressure that their children are under.
Inputs by Arita Sarkar and Pallavi Smart
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