Gujarat Police are probing the role of a 40-year-old woman and her 18-year-old daughter in the disappearance of at least 10 children from Bharuch over the last year. Police said that the two women, who were in police custody for the kidnapping of a seven-year old boy, have been booked for murder after Bharuch police exhumed the skeletal remains of another seven-year-old boy from her backyard Thursday.
Rashida Patel and her daughter Mohsina were produced before the local court in Bharuch’s Ankleshwar taluka Thursday following the discovery of the remains of Vikki Devipujak, 7, from their backyard. “We have got list of eight minor children who went missing from Bharuch in 2017 and complaints had been registered. We will try to dig out more information during her remand period,” said Ankleshwar police inspector J G Amin.
Rashida was already on a five-day remand with police for the kidnapping of Mohit Paswan, 7, which ended Thursday. The court has granted remand for three more days.
Mohit, a resident of Sanjay Nagar in Ankleshwar, had gone missing while playing outside his house on November 17, 2017, according to the complaint filed by his father Patiram Paswan, a labourer at a private firm there. On March 16 this year, Mohit returned home on his own and told his parents that he had been confined in a room and beaten by a woman. Based on descriptions provided by the boy, police tracked Rashida to a chawl in Ankleshwar, barely a ten-minute walk from Mohit’s house, and arrested her on March 18.
During interrogation, police sources said, Rashida had confessed that her son who was six months old died in 2016 and since then she was looking for a minor boy to take care of her at her old age.
Police said Rashida had married thrice but had been divorced by all her husbands. She had a daughter with her first husband Yakoob Shaikh; another daughter with her second husband Habib Shaikh; and, a boy with her third husband Mehboob Pathan.
In 2016, after the death of her son who was just six months old and divorce from Pathan, Rashida lived with her daughters at her house in Ankleshwar.
During interrogation, Rashida confessed to having kidnapped Vikki Devipujak from the Gurudwara area.
Ankleshwar inspector Amin said, “During police remand, Rashida said that in March 2017, she had kidnapped Vikki and treated him like son, naming him Khalid. She said that one day, the boy consumed some medicine which made him unconscious and he died. She dug a pit in her lawn and buried him there.”
On Thursday, a team of Bharuch police was present at the spot when the remains of Vikki were exhumed. Bharuch crime branch inspector A C Tarde said, “After death of her son, Rashida wanted a son who can take care of her at her old age. She is presently working in a private hospital at Ankleshwar. She confessed that she had lured Mohit with a Rs10 note while he was playing alone outside his house… She rechristened him Mohyuddin Patel. However, when Mohit asked about his parents, she beat him and kept him captive.”
In her absence, police said, her younger daughter would ensure that Mohit was safe in the house. “But on March 16, when Rashida was out and her daughter was busy, Mohit escaped from the house and returned to Sanjay Nagar,” said Tarde.