August 2, 2017 3:21:24 am
WITH 650 CASES to his credit, Police Naik Rajesh Pandey is Mumbai Police’s ‘go-to man’ when it comes to cracking a missing persons case. Pandey, currently posted at Malad police station, has a ‘nil missing persons’ record at every police station he has worked so far. It all started with investigating a missing complaint of a 12-year-old boy in 2013. The victim’s mother had approached the Mumbai Police to track her child. Pandey was part of the team probing the case. Fifteen days into the case, Pandey and his team nabbed the kidnapper. It was the boy’s estranged father. “While initially, we were probing an outsider’s involvement, the probe indicated otherwise. We then zeroed down on the boy’s father and went to his village in Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh, where we found the child. Unable to win his custody, the father had kidnapped the child and fled to his village,” recalls Pandey, who has earned the sobriquet ‘Devdoot’ (godsend) by his colleagues.
Pandey started his career in 1993, but contemplated giving it up. “My father also served the Mumbai Police. I wanted to try different things but after my father’s death in 1998, I decided not to quit the force. The responsibility of my family fell on my shoulders, I have four younger sisters” says Pandey.
While the job helped him earn his daily bread, tracking missing people gave him a purpose, he says. “I started finding the cases very challenging. Some are easy to crack. One needs to quiz the family members, friends and relatives and one gets the first workable lead. Cases concerning infants and toddlers are more difficult, so one has to take the help of our canine squad to get the leads,” says Pandey.
The Naik adds that technology has aided investigations. “Through mobile phones, we are able to track people’s locations. We have formed various WhatsApp groups, where information pertaining to missing persons are shared. While human intelligence cannot be substituted, technology has definitely helped,” he says.
According to Pandey, every day, 30 to 40 children and around 120 adults go missing in the city. Some of the cases pertain to children fleeing after fights with their parents. Some are those of eloping and some of kidnappings for ransom or trafficking. “While most of the cases pertain to tiffs with family members or elopments, some are serious cases where the child is kidnapped for ransom or trafficking. In such cases, the investigation has to be done very carefully, as the child’s life is at risk ,” he adds.
Pandey is not only approached for guidance by his colleagues, he has also earned people’s wishes and love, he says. “Every parents whose child has been reunited gets overwhelmed when he sees the child. That moment is very satisfying. No money can buy it. I am happy that I am a part of that moment,” he adds with a smile.
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