Every day, one person goes missing from railway stations

Mumbai:  With Esther Anuhya’s disappearance from LTT and subsequent murder still fresh in the memory, GRP statistics have revealed that 365 people went missing from railway premises in 2013.

With cops still struggling to crack the case of the young software engineer who went missing from Lokmanya Tilak Termius (LTT) before being brutally killed last month, Government Railway Police (GRP) have disclosed some chilling statistics that seem to point to a deeper crisis at hand.

The figures say that on an average, one person goes missing from the city’s railway premises every day. A total of 365 missing complaints were registered in 2013, and in January this year, 22 missing complaints were reported. A majority of the complaints are filed for minors. Of the 365 who went missing, 188 were found.

Special team formed:  According to authorities, the disappearances are from local trains as well as railway premises. The months of November and December recorded the highest number of disappearances from railway premises last year. “Every day we get missing persons complaints from the relatives or the staff. We have a team that works only on the reports relating to missing persons,” said a GRP staff member, who works on the team.

Every year, thousands of passengers meet with accidents on the tracks, and since many of them cannot be identified, their names stay on in the missing persons list. “There are accidents happening frequently, after which identification is difficult. After waiting for eight days, the railway police perform the last rites, but the persons remain in the records,” said a railway police official.

According to officials, some of the missing persons are squatters who come from different parts of the country and live in shanties along train tracks. “There are cases when such people die due to illness, starvation or other problems. They remain as unclaimed bodies and sometimes they are bodies of people who have been reported missing by their relatives,” added the official.

Majority are minors:  Rajiv Singhal, member of the Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee (DRUCC), said, “Most of the missing persons are those who come to Mumbai from outside, and have no idea about the city. If they cannot be identified, they remain in the missing persons’ files.

Reports will reveal that most of the complaints filed for missing persons are minors. This is because gangs operate in large numbers and kidnap or misguide the kids, and use them as beggars for their benefit.” He added that the railway police should start crime detection in different ways to catch the culprits.

Lost and found

January 2014: Software engineer Esther Anuhya, a native of Hyderabad, reached LTT on January 5 and subsequently went missing. She was returning to the city to resume work after going home for her Christmas break. Her severely decomposed body was found in Bhandup on the Eastern Express Highway on January 16.

February 2013: Two-and-a-half-year-old Pintu Kharat went missing with his mother. On February 6, one of the search parties found the mother but not the child. All she could recall in her daze was that she had boarded a suburban train and reached the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) with Pintu. Twenty days later, a team found him at Shejar Chhaya, an orphanage at Vasai.

June 2012: Three-year-old Sangita was kidnapped from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). The Government Railway Police (GRP) of Maharashtra subsequently released shocking CCTV footage of the kidnapping, showing a limping man alighting from a train and wandering about the station before spotting the sleeping family and Sangita, who was not asleep at the time. The man then sat beside her and took her away. The Haridwar police subsequently rescued her from her kidnapper at the Haridwar bus station.

Kurla, CST, Borivli, Thane, Kalyan
Stations where THE maximum number of missing cases are filed

Software search:  The GRP launched a website in the year 2012, to help in the identification of accident victims. “People can trace missing persons by searching with descriptions or markers of identity on our website,” said Prabhat Kumar, commissioner of police (GRP). The website address is www.shodh.gov.in/enquiry.aspx

Search method:  The CST police station, a major hub in Mumbai for cases of missing children, has three women constables dedicated to all disappearances (even of adults). For complicated cases, they set up a separate unit to track the missing person or child. After a complaint is filed, this unit spends two weeks hunting full-time for the person. If unsuccessful, the unit’s cops take on other work while keeping additional track of the case.

No of persons who went missing in 2013