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Missing girl's mother alleges police inaction

Devesh K. Pandey
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Missing:Ambika
Missing:Ambika

Just over a year after her younger daughter went missing from her house in Burari here in 2010, 38-year-old widow Sarita Gupta is yet to figure out what exactly transpired with her. Having recently come across the photograph of an unidentified body on the Delhi Police website resembling her daughter, the hapless mother suspects that her daughter is dead and alleges that the police cremated the body without making enough efforts to establish its identity.

Sixteen-year-old Ambika, a student of Class X, lived with her mother and elder sister in Ramesh Colony. “That evening I returned home from work and went off to sleep. When I woke up, I noticed that Ambika was missing. I searched for her in the neighbourhood and contacted my relatives, but could not trace her. I then contacted the police and got a case registered the next day, (October 5, 2010),” recalled Ms. Gupta, a yoga teacher.

Stating that her daughter was passing through depression, Ms. Gupta in her complaint raised suspicion that someone had kidnapped her.

From then on Ms. Gupta has paid innumerable visits to the area police station requesting police officers to expedite the search. “I kept looking for her and on the fifth day, I met a security guard, Ram Kumar, posted at a nearby canteen. He claimed to have seen my daughter who had come looking for a job. However, he said three young men -- one of whom lived in our locality -- took her away on the pretext of dropping her home,” said Mr. Gupta.

When Ms. Gupta told the police about it, they checked the canteen's CCTV footage, but it was all “hazy”.

The woman requested the police to get sketches of the suspects prepared with the help of the security guard, but she alleged that no one took her seriously. “Finally, I got posters printed offering Rs.50,000 for information on my daughter's whereabouts and also received some calls in response. I asked the police to cross-check, but they did not take me seriously. Perhaps they knew that my daughter was dead,” said Ms. Gupta.

The complainant also raised suspicion about the role of an area resident, who had a few years ago teased her elder daughter and she had got him arrested. “On insistence, the police questioned him,” she alleged.

About a month ago, Ms. Gupta was going through the photographs of unidentified bodies uploaded on the Delhi Police' Zipnet webpage when she spotted a photograph that appeared to resemble Ambika. “The police had found the girl in an unconscious condition at Kashmiri Gate in March 2011 and took her to a nearby hospital where she died during treatment,” she said.

“The doctor opined that it was a natural death and post-mortem was not conducted,” said a police officer.

Ms. Gupta, who claimed that the girl was murdered, said: “I contacted the doctor to get her description and I now believe that it was my daughter. She was cremated as an unidentified body. It is shocking that all this while, the information was on the police website and my daughter's particulars were also available there, but the police could not connect the dots.”

However, denying the allegations, an area police officer said it was still not certain that the body was that of Ambika. “We are sending the photographs of the missing girl and the deceased to a forensic laboratory for analysis,” he said.

But he conceded that the DNA sample of the deceased had not been preserved for identification in future.

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