Miraculous reunion: Mumbai girl who was abducted at the age of seven in 2013 returns to family
A 16-year-old girl, who was abducted at the age of seven has reunited with her family in Mumbai after nearly a decade.
The girl, identified as Pooja Gaud, went missing when she was seven, from Juhu Galli locality in Mumbai on January 22, 2013, after she left for school and never returned.
She was known as 'Girl no 166' as she was the 166th missing girl as per the DN Nagar police station records.
While all the other 165 missing girls were found by May 2015, Pooja remained untraceable.
In May 2015, assistant sub-inspector Rajendra Bhosale who was the then officer-in-charge of the missing bureau retired from service and the family had almost given up hope that they will ever see Pooja again.
But even after his retirement, Bhosale continued to believe that the girl was alive and will be found one day.
“Even after my retirement, I thought about the girl every day and prayed that she is found. I still carry her photo in my wallet and would look for her whenever I came back to Mumbai," Bhosale who now lives in his village said.
And that belief paid off as the DN Nagar Police found her earlier this week, at a locality that is less than one kilometer from her original home.
According to the Police, Pooja who went to school that day along with her brother was abducted by one Harry D'souza, and his wife Sony who did not have children.
On January 22, 2013, Pooja and brother Rohit fought over the pocket money given by their grandparents. While Rohit who was walking a little ahead of his sister went to school, Pooja did not enter the gate.
D'souza who worked as an electrician found the girl outside the school and took her along, promising to buy her ice cream.
When Rohit realised that his sister was not in her class, he informed the parents who later filed a police complaint.
D'souza and Sony who did not have children kept Pooja at their home and even gave her a new name - Annie.
After the news of the missing girl made headlines, D'souza took her out of Maharashtra to Karnataka where she was sent to a boarding school.
Things changed after the couple had a child and they brought her back to Mumbai and made Pooja babysit their child.
The couple even made her work as a maid at nearby houses.
While working at a house in Juhu Galli, where the couple now lived, Pooja told another woman who worked with her that D'souza and Sony were not her real parents and that they used to abuse her.
Feeling that something was wrong, the domestic help, Pramila Devendra did some Google searches and came across reports of missing Pooja.
She also found a poster with four numbers seeking information on the missing girl. While three numbers went unanswered, the fourth listed number, that of Mohammad Rafique Shaikh, a neighbour of Pooja's family got connected.
After seeing her on a video call and confirming with Pooja's mother, they informed the police.
With the help of the police, Pooja is reunited with her family and D'souza has been arrested.
While it was a happy homecoming for Pooja, she was saddened by the revelation that her father and grandfather are no more.