THREE teenagers, including two sisters, who had run away from their Dharavi residence on March 31 after fights with their parents, were tracked down by the Mumbai police on Wednesday. The sisters, aged 15 and 17, and their 19-year-old friend had told their parents they were going to college. When they did not return, a complaint was registered at the Shahu Nagar police station on April 2. Of the three girls, two were studying in college while the 15-year-old had just taken her Class X exams.
The Shahu Nagar police registered a case of kidnapping — as per Supreme Court guidelines, an FIR has to be registered if minors go missing — and a joint team of the local police and the crime branch was formed. The police began tracking their phones and found that on March 31, when the girls had told their families they would come home late because of a college function, they had taken a train to Delhi.
The police also found that the 19-year-old girl had called up a relative based in Uttar Pradesh from a public phone, and a team was dispatched there. However, by then, the girls had spent all their money and had decided to come back to Mumbai from Delhi.
“While they were going to Delhi, they befriended a 19-year-old man, Shahnawaz Salmani, who told them they could contact him if they needed work or a place to stay,” said Dilip Thorat, senior inspector, Shahu Nagar police station.
Accordingly, after reaching the city, they contacted Salmani, who arranged for them to stay in a room near his flat in Virar, where he was staying with his parents. Salmani works for a mobile network service provider in Mira Road locality, the police said.
An officer said the 19-year-old girl contacted her UP-based cousin again using Salmani’s mobile phone a couple of times. The police had been in touch with him, and he promptly informed them about it. The Shahu Nagar police then checked the phone records of Salmani and found he had spoken to a police constable a few days ago.
“We then contacted the constable, who told us that Salmani worked at a mobile network gallery in Mira Road and had come to him to complete his SIM card application formalities. Now, we had the address of where Salmani worked,” an officer said.
The police team reached the gallery on Wednesday morning. They found Salmani along with two of the three missing girls and detained them.
They led the police to the third girl too. An officer said that in their statement to the police, one of the girls said she was upset because her parents did not approve of her relationship with a boy, while her sister was frustrated because they had scolded her for coming home late one day.
The family of the third girl was moving to Bengaluru and she did not want to go along, and hence she decided to join the two other girls, the officer said.
The police subsequently placed Salmani under formal arrest for “not informing the local police that he had helped the missing girls to stay at Virar” on charges of kidnapping.