Assistant Inspector-General Rajendra Dondo Bhosle of DN Nagar Police Station in Mumbai handled the cases of 166 girls who went missing between 2008 and 2015 – the year he retired. He and his team tracked down 165 of them. She remained Girl Number 166, whom Bussell had been trying to find for two years as a cop, and seven years after retirement.
8:20 pm on Thursday, The girl, only seven years old when she disappeared on January 22, 2013, with her family. The 16-year-old was found living 500 meters from her home in Andheri (West).
While Harry Joseph D’Souza, 50, has been arrested, his wife Sonny, 37, is charged. The couple reportedly kidnapped her because they desperately needed a baby of their own.
Much has changed in this time. The girl was working as a babysitter in a community in Andheri (West), while her father was dead. I recognized her mother and uncle immediately when they met. As a team of police watched from afar, holding their breath, both sides collapsed.
On that day in 2013, the girl and her older brother were going to the municipal school where they studied when they had a quarrel over pocket money. Police said D’Souza told them he saw the girl walking around the school, and thought it was the answer to the family’s desire to have a child.
When the girl did not reach home after school, the family filed a complaint with DN Nagar Police Station. Bhosle took the case.
Police said D’Souza told them he only realized the repercussions of what he had done after the police intervened in the crime, and the media broke the story, followed by a campaign by locals to find her. Fearing the consequences for him, he sent the girl away to a hostel in their native Raishore in Karnataka.
In 2016, D’Souza and Soni gave birth to a child. Now, they have brought the girl back from Karnataka, where they were reportedly unable to cover the expenses of raising two children, and made her work as a babysitter. The family also moved their homes, ironically, to the same area of Gilbert Hill in Andheri (west), roughly adjacent to where the girl originally lived, says Milind Cordy, chief inspector of DN Nagar Station.
Cordy says the couple thought that no one would recognize the girl now because she was growing up. Her missing stickers are also gone. Moreover, the accused confirmed that the girl did not speak to anyone in the area,” the officer said.
According to the girl’s uncle, “Dsouza’s wife was beating her, while he was getting drunk and telling her that he picked her up from somewhere in 2013. She realized that the couple were not her parents, but she feared them very much. She didn’t know how to escape.”
Meanwhile, ASI Bhosle has continued the search. On March 8, 2015, in a report titled “Girl #166,” the Sunday Express detailed how the case had become a personal matter of sorts for him.
“Until last week he came to meet us, we all started crying. We gave up, but he kept telling us he would find her,” the girl’s uncle told The Indian Express.
It was the housemaid in the house where the girl had been working as a babysitter for the past seven months who came to her aid. An official said that upon hearing her story, the woman searched Google for the girl’s name, and in 2013 it was marked as D’Souza you mentioned and ‘missing’. “I found the campaigns and writings that appeared after I was lost,” said her uncle.
According to the uncle, seeing the photos, the girl remembered everything, including that she lives in the same neighborhood. The two also found a missing poster online with five contact numbers. “While four of the numbers didn’t work, the fifth for the family neighbor’s companion did,” her uncle said.
When Rafeeq first received the call, he was said to have been skeptical as there had been many such calls over the years to his number. Request a photo as confirmation.
Thursday morning, the two had a video call with Rafeeq, who took a screenshot and showed it to the girl’s mother and uncle. “We immediately burst into tears when we got to know her,” said the uncle.
The family took the details of the Juhu community where she worked from and reported it to DN Nagar Police Station.
When the family went there with the police team, the girl came down with the pretext of taking the little boy she was caring for for a walk. At twenty-eight in the evening, night fell, the girl and her mother met for the first time in nine years.
Speaking to The Indian Express, ASI Bhosle said, “When I first got the call, I couldn’t believe it. I called the Chief Inspector to confirm. Then I called VD Bhoite, who was the Chief Inspector at DN Nagar Police Station when I was looking for her. He told me you did. Do your best and you have covered 99% of all possibilities. The remaining 1% is a blessing from God.”
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While researching, Bosley said, “You can retire as a cop, but insanity (humanity) isn’t something that ends in retirement. It’s there until you’re alive. You have to understand the pain of losing a daughter. If one can’t see that, one can’t be a human.”
The police registered a case of kidnapping, disappearance, human trafficking, unlawful confinement, and unlawful forced labor, among other divisions, against D’Souza and his wife. Cordy said D’Souza has been brought back into police custody, but they haven’t arrested Sonny yet because there was no one else to take care of their six-year-old daughter.
The 16-year-old girl is being medically examined by the police. She will be shown before the Child Welfare Committee, before being handed over to her family. The police also sent teams to Karnataka to check the sequence of events.