Ever since 67-year-old Rita Nandrekar got separated from her husband Joseph (77) at Kandivali railway station while trying to board a train on the morning of April 21, the Nandrekars have had nothing but sleepless nights.
Mira Road residents Rita and Joseph had visited the Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital in Kandivli for a routine medical check-up. A few hours later, around noon, Rita got left behind while trying to board a train with her husband.
“My mother and father travel together everywhere, they always accompany each other. That afternoon, they were holding hands but while my father managed get on to the train, my mother was separated from him as a large number of passengers got down at the same time,” said Rita’s son Jackson, who along with his elder brother James, has been scrutinising a three-minute CCTV footage of the incident.
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The CCTV camera was aimed at the middle bogeys of the train and is believed to be the only camera that captured the missing sexagenarian that morning.
Rita was wearing an off-white colour saree with a red pallu. The only item she was carrying was a plastic bag containing their medical files and an umbrella.
“My mother did not have a cellphone but her medical files had her personal contact details, including our address. The video showed our mother sitting on a bench but then walking towards the south end of the platform. She went out of frame and we do not know what happened to her after that. The police have not yet found her,” added Jackson.
When Joseph returned to Kandivli railway station around 12.30 pm, he was unable to find his wife and contacted his sons. Since their mother’s disappearance, the two brothers have been trying to search for their mother.
“James scanned the railway station between 12 pm and 12 am for three consecutive days on April 22-24. Our family goes to church in Vasai, and my brother lives in Andheri but works in Santacruz. My mother is originally from Satara and knows only these places in Mumbai,” said Jackson.
“I took the first south-bound train and alighted at Vasai railway police station. I pleaded with the police to show me the footage but the officers asked me to write an application and return later in the morning. Even at Kandivli railway station, for three days straight we requested the, to show us footage from the station but all we got was three minutes from the same camera that captured my mother,” he added. So far, more than 600 posters of Rita have been pasted across the trains and platforms in the western suburbs,
“On Tuesday evening, we received one phone call from a young woman named Amrutha. She claimed to have seen our mother travelling in the first class compartment of a southbound train. Amrutha, who travelled on that train from Vasai to Malad, said that the elderly woman she saw was patiently standing for a seat to sit,” he added.
The police have also not contacted the family to ask them to identify any unknown bodies.
“Their investigations are still underway. We do not know what to suspect. There is no reason for our mother to not return. She knows her way back home,” added James.