Strangers help trace minors abducted by ragpicker

A case involving the abduction of two minor siblings ended on a happy note when they were reunited with their parents on Wednesday owing to a forward that went viral on social media and the kindness of strangers.

A mason from Tirupati with the help of his acquaintances in Bengaluru helped the Sanjay Nagar police trace the minors, who were taken away from near their house in Bhoopasandra by a ragpicker on October 25.

Seven-year-old Namrata and her younger brother Naveen, 5, were picked up by the ragpicker, later identified as Vinod, while they were playing outside their house. Their parents, Prashanth, a tender coconut vendor, and Shailaja, a domestic help, often left their children under the care of their ailing grandfather while they were at work.

When the parents realised that their children were missing, they filed a complaint with the police, who on verifying CCTV footage, saw Vinod walking away with them. The police began to share the images of the children on the beat policemen’s WhatsApp group.

On October 27, Venkatesh, a mason, saw Vinod walking aimlessly with the two children. He later told the police that he stopped them as something wasn’t quite right. He began to question Vinod, who escaped leaving behind the children.

Venkatesh brought the children to his house and tried to talk to them but Namrata only told him her name and that she was from “Hebbala”. When he realised that they were from Bengaluru, Venkatesh sought the help of his acquaintance Vijay, 19, a construction labourer who worked in the city. He shared their images on WhatsApp.

Vijay, who was unaware that the police were looking for these children, forwarded the photo to all his acquaintances. In an almost serendipitous turn of events, the forward reached taxi driver Avinash who operated in Bhoopasandra and who happened to be a part of the beat police WhatsApp group, an initiative introduced by the police recently to involve citizens in community policing.

Avinash, who received the forward on November 1, immediately recognised the children. He contacted the police, who in turn alerted the parents to verify their identity. Within hours, the police traced the forward to Vinod, who told them that Venkatesh had found the children in Tirupati. After a confirmation, a team accompanied by children’s father, Avinash, and Vijay left for Tirupati.

Late on Wedesday, the children were reunited with their father and returned to the city on Thursday. Chetan Singh Rathore, DCP North, termed it as a classic example of police-public cooperation.

Meanwhile, the Sanjay Nagar police are on a massive manhunt for Vinod.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 8:16:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/strangers-help-trace-minors-abducted-by-ragpicker/article19970180.ece

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