Part 1

Part 2

The Inside Story
The couple told the police on July 3 that they suspected their daughter had been kidnapped; when the cops found the 10-year-old yesterday, the girl told them that she had been harassed and verbally abused by her mom and stepfather ever since her father committed suicide two years ago and that they wanted her gone.

“I was harassed and hated by my parents, especially my stepfather, who used to scold me all the time. They wanted me gone. I don’t want to stay with my mother anymore. I’m scared of my parents,” 10-year-old Priyanka Gupta told the Kamothe police after they finally found her yesterday.

Desperate to get rid of her, Priyanka’s heartless mother, Punam, and stepfather, Mustafa, had allegedly abandoned her in a local train in the wee hours of July 3 and then sent the police on a wild goose chase by registering a missing complaint the same day. They told the police that they suspected she had been kidnapped.

The 10-year-old had, fortunately, made her way to her relatives in Chembur, who have been taking care of her since last week. Investigations led the police to the girl yesterday and Punam, Mustafa and a family friend they were staying with have now been arrested.
‘Life changed’
Priyanka told the police that her life changed two years ago, when her father, Vijay Gupta, committed suicide. She said she has been at the receiving end of verbal abuse from her stepfather, Mustafa, since then.

“My mother and stepfather had a daughter, Soni. They never abused her and only I was looked down upon and hated,” Priyanka told the police in her statement. She said that Punam and Mustafa abandoned her in a local train on July 3.
Police case
Around 10.30 am the same day, Punam and Mustafa approached the Kamothe police and filed a missing complaint. Mustafa posed as Vijay Gupta and the couple told the police that their daughter, Priyanka, had gone missing around 4.30 am and they suspected she had been kidnapped.
The police began a probe and started getting suspicious when they realised that Vijay Gupta had committed suicide two years ago. DCP (Crime, Zone II) Suresh Mengade said, “We formed seven teams and one of them was dispatched to Gupta’s native place in Uttar Pradesh.
On asking the neighbours, we found that Gupta had relatives living in three places in Mumbai, We checked all three places and found the girl at a relative’s home in MHADA colony in Chembur today (Wednesday).”
Brave heart
Priyanka told the police that she had got off the local train at Diva station as she knew the address of a relative there. The relative had taken her to the house of her other relatives in Chembur, where she was found by the police around 7.30 am yesterday.

“The stepfather wanted to get rid of Priyanka and, thus, the couple did all this,” said a police officer. The police have arrested Punam Gupta, Mustafa and their friend Dinesh Bhaskar, with whom the family was staying in Kamothe. They were booked under Sections 317 (Exposure and abandonment of child under twelve years, by parent or person having care of it), 177 (Furnishing false information) and 34 (Common intention) of the Indian Penal Code and are now in judicial custody. Priyanka will now stay with her relatives in Chembur. “We will present the girl in court tomorrow. Her relatives staying in Chembur have agreed to look after her. They have even enrolled her in a local municipal school,” said PSI V Salunke from Kamothe police station.

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