Updated: July 6, 2021 10:26:14 am
In October 2020, 16-year-old Sakshi (name changed) took a train to Mumbai to escape poverty back at her home in Pune. Inspired by the movies, she had plans to make it big in the ‘city of dreams’ but could not find a suitable job due to the pandemic. In no mood to go back home, she came up with a unique plan to survive in Mumbai: She cut her hair short, dressed up as a boy with clothes donated by strangers, and started taking up odd jobs. Also, she took on a new name, Samir Shaikh.
However, her stint in the Maximum City was cut short last week after the police picked her up on suspicion from Bhiwandi and took her to the police station where she confessed to her identity. She was subsequently reunited with her mother.
Police said the teen, a school drop-out, fled from her home in Hadapsar in Pune eight months ago and reached Dadar railway station, Mumbai, by train in search of work. “She had a faint idea about Mumbai’s roads as she was born in the northern suburbs and stayed here during her school days before shifting to Pune,” said an officer. Her father has passed away and her mother does odd jobs for a living while her brother is in college.
“Inspired by the movies, she decided to leave home for Mumbai before informing anyone. But due to the lockdown, she could not find any work in Dadar. She cut her hair short and headed to Kalyan in a train and finally reached Bhiwandi… When the local boys asked her name, she identified herself as ‘Samir Shaikh’. She spent eight months on the footpath under a building in Shantinagar area of Bhiwandi,” said police.
She managed to earn some money by doing odd jobs; the shopkeepers in the area and locals would also provide her with food.
Last week, local Shantinagar police team spotted her moving suspiciously and questioned her thinking her to be a boy. As she did not give any coherent replies, she was taken to the police station.
“She managed to hide her identity and kept cooking up stories. But eventually she gave up and started speaking in Marathi and told us she was a girl,” said Deepvijay Bhavar, a police sub inspector.
“Because of her looks and voice, it was difficult to make out she was a girl. She did not want to go back home and hence kept lying that she is from Nagpur and her parents have died. But then she told us about her uncle in Beed. We contacted him through local police there and he told us she is from Hadapsar. We then called the local police in Pune who traced her mother, who came here and took her daughter back,” said Bhavar.
When the police asked her if she was sexually abused in the city, she replied in the negative.
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