The Sheikhs finally let go of their “little angel” with smiles, hugs and a few tears. And with that, Megha’s turbulent year-long journey from a slum in Bandra to the house of a Kashmiri family in Srinagar, via New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu, came to an emotional end. It was time to return home.
A day after The Indian Express first reported her story, and hours after her maternal grandfather Rameshji Thakur arrived in Srinagar, carrying a large photograph of her, tears rolling down his eyes, the five-year-old said, “I will again come to Srinagar to meet this aunty.”
She was pointing to Dilshada Bano, wife of Abdul Rashid Sheikh, who had looked after her for the last 11 days after the family found her crying in the Dalgate area. Wearing new clothes and flaunting the two fancy purses gifted by the Sheikhs, a smiling Megha added, “I am very happy that I am going to my family, I am missing them.”
“It was a long search but I had a hope that some day I will find Megha,” Thakur said. The 62 year old had reached Srinagar on Wednesday morning along with Vasant Dhoble, ACP in Mumbai Police’s Missing Persons Bureau, whose team had located Megha’s family at the
Nirmal Nagar slum from where she was reported missing in June 2013. “Her mother is a housemaid, father a painter and we have a hard time running the household,” Thakur said, adding that his air ticket to Srinagar was arranged for by Mumbai Police.
Thakur said that Megha went missing minutes after her mother had brought her some food from a roadside eatery.
“She was kidnapped by some unknown people,” he said. Megha had told this paper on Tuesday that she had been kidnapped by a man she called “Nazir”, a beggar, who took her with him to New Delhi, UP and various places in Jammu and Kashmir. She had apparently been separated from him by the floods that devastated the valley last month.
The Sheikhs, meanwhile, said they were “thankful to God” for providing them “with a chance” to take care of the girl. “It is our good luck that we got a chance to treat this little angel,” Abdul Rashid Sheikh said.
It was this family that took Megha to their home and informed local police who, in turn, contacted their counterparts in Mumbai.
Megha reached Mumbai Wednesday night and was taken to Nirmal Nagar police station where her mother, Seema Chowdhary, was waiting for her.
Seema, who was worried if her daughter would recognise her, jumped when she saw her. Megha also ran to her mother, the minute she walked out of the police jeep.
“Nazir uncle leke gaye the mujhe. Bheek mangvate the mujhse wahan,” (Nazir uncle had taken me away, and used to make me beg for alms) she told her mother.
Megha was four and half years old when she went missing and spoke in broken Hindi. A year later, Seema, found it a little difficult to adjust to her daughter’s new found Kashmiri accent.
Later, Megha was taken to a hospital for a medical check up.
ACP Dhoble said the police would investigate the case further. “We will now find out if this case is part of a child-trafficking racket,” he added.
With inputs from ENS, MUMBAI