A viral WhatsApp forward and the persistence of conscientious strangers helped two abducted minor siblings return to their parents.
The siblings, seven-year-old Namrata and her younger brother Naveen, five, were kidnapped by a ragpicker, identified as Vinod, while playing outside their house in Bhoopsandra, Bengaluru, reported the Times of India.
Their parents, a tender coconut vendor and domestic helper, Prashanth and Shailaja, left with no choice, would often leave the children under the care of their ailing grandfather while they were at work.
After realising the kids were missing, the parents filed a complaint with the police, who checked CCTV footage and saw Vinod walking away with them.
A frantic search ensued, involving the police sharing the children’s images on Whatsapp, which eventually went viral.
Two days after the kids went missing, on October 27, Venkatesh, a mason in Tirupati, saw Vinod walking with the two children.
The whole scenario looked suspicious to Venkatesh; so he approached the three and began to question Vinod, who darted in fear.
Venkatesh brought the children to his house and tried to talk to them, but Namrata was only able to tell him her name and that they were from “Hebbala”.
This was enough for Venkatesh to realised that they were from Bengaluru. He quickly sought the help of his acquaintance Vijay, 19, a construction labourer who worked in the city and the two shared their images on WhatsApp.
The beauty and miracle of viral WhatsApp forwards –
A taxi driver who operated in Bhoopasandra and incidentally, a member of the beat police WhatsApp group, received the images of the missing kids on Wednesday, November 1.
He immediately sent it to the group, an incredible initiative by the police to involve citizens in the effort of community policing.
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After confirmation, a team accompanied by children’s father, Avinash, and Vijay left for Tirupati.
Late on Wednesday, the children were reunited with their father and returned to Bengaluru on Thursday.
Chetan Singh Rathore, DCP North, termed it as “a classic example of police-public cooperation”.
Meanwhile, the police are on a massive manhunt for Vinod.