Careless cops hand over ‘missing’ girl to drug addict

Police trace 19-year-old mentally challenged girl who had been reported missing, but promptly hand her over to a complete stranger who claimed to be her ‘husband’

January 08, 2013
Saurabh Vaktania, mid day

With public sentiment choked with anger against police insensitivity in handling crimes against women, the men in khaki are in for some deep derision yet again for handing over the custody of a mentally-challenged young woman, reported missing, to a complete stranger without so much as verifying who he was. The woman’s photo was right in front of their eyes, but they did not take a blind bit of notice before packing her off with a druggie, as they later termed him.

Aarti Bhanushali

Two days after kin of Aarti Bhanushali (19) filed a missing complaint with the NM Joshi Marg police, the cops located her. But they gave her away to a man who walked into the police station and claimed to be her spouse, the victim’s parents alleged. When Aarti’s relatives approached the police again, the officer on duty said he had sent the girl away with her “husband”. The relatives are yet to come to terms with what they claim is “mammoth negligence” on the part of the cops.

On January 4, Gujarati MiD DAY had published a report about how Aarti, who had come to the city from Gandhidham in Gujarat to meet her grandparents at Asalfa village in Ghatkopar, reportedly went missing the day she arrived here. Her grandparents said she disappeared from their Ghatkopar residence on December 25. After looking for her, the couple informed her relatives in Gujarat who rushed to Mumbai and joined the search. On December 26, a complaint was lodged with the Ghatkopar police.

“After waiting for a day, we registered a non-cognisable complaint at Ghatkopar police station, and placed an ad in the papers,” said Vasant Bhanushali, Aarti’s uncle. Over a week passed by with no news of Aarti. “But last Saturday morning, one of our friends called us and said he had seen Aarti on NM Joshi Marg with someone. Aarti’s mother and her relatives rushed to the area and began looking for her,” Vasant said.

When they could not find her anywhere by the end of the day, her kin approached the NM Joshi Marg police station and registered another missing complaint. “The police officer on duty asked for Aarti’s photograph. We gave it to him and he duly slid it under the glass plate covering his wooden table. The photo was displayed prominently,” said a relative.

Another two days passed by and Aarti’s family did not hear from the NM Joshi Marg police. When they approached the police station, they were aghast to hear the cops explain how Aarti had been found, and then lost again. “The cop whom we had given Aarti’s photo had handed her custody to an absolute stranger, who they later said appeared to be a chronic substance abuser, without verifying his identity. They should have been more cautious. The least they could have done was run a background check before handing over her custody,” the relative said.

After the family complained to the cops that Aarti’s custody had been given to the wrong person, the cops reportedly swung into action. Police teams were sent out to find the woman. The officer responsible for the mix-up could not be reached for comment. DCP Kishore Jadhav said, “I have not been informed about the incident. I will look into the matter.”

Have you seen her?
In case if you come across any information on Aarti, please call Thakarshi Bhanushali on 9979406659 or Vasant Bhanushali 9810067381