A stranger from Pune reunites a lost 8-year-old girl from Aundh with her family
Social media was abuzz with messages of a missing eight-year-old Jeevantika Avinash Tapase, a student of Dr Kalmadi Shamarao High School, Aundh on Tuesday. Jeevantika, who lived the reel story of Baby’s Day Out, quite literally on Tuesday, is a resident of Pimple Nilakh, and went missing from her home at 4pm. On Wednesday, she was safely returned to her parents at the Sangvi police station.
The child, police believe, may have been angry with her mother for scolding her and ran from her house. However, during the intervening hours of her being missing and found, her parents, neighbours and friends triggered search operations across social media and on the ground. So much so, that the missing girl from Aundh became the talk of the town with speculations of child kidnapping viral.
Jeevantika, who found her way onto the main road on Rakshak chowk, trusted a stranger and went home with her. However, luckily for the eight-yearold, her fosters helped her find her parents on Wednesday. A young couple living in Hinjewadi had taken Jeevantika in for the night, who had asked for their help when she was found alone at the Rakshak chowk bus stop by Harshada Garud. “I saw the girl looking lost near Rakshak Chowk bus stop and when I walked towards the bus stop, she asked me to help her and take her with me,” said the married 18-year-old student of Dr Ambedkar College in Aundh, who had waited for her husband to come home.
“I asked her about her parents, their mobile numbers or if she remembered where she lived. The girl was in shock and was holding onto my hand. All that she said was that she was lost and wanted to go my house. I was afraid and did not know what to do, hence, I took her to my house and waited till my husband to come home by 9pm. By that time, the girl had her dinner and then went to sleep, so we did not wake her up,” she added.
Tuesday was a stressful day, however, for Jeevantika’s parents who were frantically looking everywhere for their daughter. Father Avinash, who is with an Information Technology (IT) firm, had returned home at
5:30pm from work on Tuesday to find only his elder daughter Manikarnika (9) at home. Avinash, his friends and neighbours searched in garbage bins, local hospital morgues and out patient departments throughout the night.
The identity of the Jeevantika was revealed when the Garuds were taking her to the Sangvi police station on Wednesday morning. Jeevantika recognised her school on the way to the station and the Garuds, then, reunited the girl with her parents with the help of the school authorities.
The girl’s mother, Shalini, heaved a sigh of relief and hugged her daughter tightly when she saw her safe at the police station on Wednesday. All of Jeevantika’s neighbours and friends had gathered at the police station to greet her. “I usually leave home by 3:45pm to go for remedial teaching at the Aundh Military Station. I have been leaving both my daughters alone at home since many years and lock the house. I am shocked how my daughter could run away from the house,” said Shalini.
“I am still confused as to how she managed to walk till Rakshak chowk which is quite far from where we live in Pimple Nilakh,” added Shalini.
After watching the close circuit television (CCTV) footage, which corroborated Harshada’s statement, the parents were shocked to see their daughter alone on the main road bus stop near Rakshak society and how easily she walked away with Harshada. “We have taught our daughters not to talk to strangers and not to go with them, but here I can see my daughter walking away with unknown person. I am thankful to Harshada for keeping my daughter safe,” said Shalini.
Assistant police inspector Ganesh Kharge, who was handling the case at the Sangvi police station, said, “Under the Indian Penal Code Section 363, this case has been registered and we called in the couple for questioning as well as the girl. The child is not aware of what she has done,” said Kharge.
The girl does not recall the incident and after recording statement of those involved, the Sangvi police officials let them go.
Why she ran away
Jeevantika’s mother scolded her for not eating her lunch and threw away the leftovers, which seemed to have angered her. Then, she left her home and ran away. Perhaps she got frightened when she reached the main road and asked for help from Harshada who was walking towards the bus stop,” said assistant police inspector Ganesh Kharge of Sangvi police station who was handling the case.
EXPERT ADVISES PARENTS TO OPEN UP, SPEND TIME WITH KIDS
Rupali Dhamdhere, principal of CM International School, Balewadi, who has been in the education sector for more than 15 years says that parents need to spend more time with their children to avoid such situations.
“Looking at today’s lifestyle, parents do not have time for the child. Parents fail to notice the small changes in the child’s behaviour and their mood swings.
“They should spend more time with the child, observe them and before the child goes to bed, share their own experiences. Children at this age understand the world, hence, it also helps the parent look at the child’s perception of a certain issue. The parent should not be judgemental and respect the child’s point of view.
“If the child feels loved and supported, he/she will not take this step, but it does not mean that the parents excessively pamper the child or cover up their mistakes,” adds Dhamdhere.