Three years after she was forcibly separated from her parent, child Chandini, now 5, will hopefully be reunited with her mother on Friday. When she was barely 2, her uncle took Chandini away to a remote Rajasthan village after her father’s death.
The city police, acting on a direction from the Madras High Court in a Habeas Corpus Petition (HCP) filed by the child’s mother, Hemalatha, rescued Chandini and brought her to Chennai.
According to Hemalatha, her husband Arjun Lal had deposited `18 lakh in a bank account in the child’s name. It is this money her in-laws were after, which was why Arjun’s brother Ladhuram took the child away to the family’s ancestral village in Rajasthan, she alleged.
“The girl was under the custody of Ladhuram in a village in Jodhpur district. Based on the HC’s direction, we sent a special team to Rajasthan last week, which brought back the child to Chennai on Wednesday. We will produce her in court on Friday,” said police inspector Natarajan of MKB Nagar.
Ladhuram tried to dodge the Tamil Nadu police team by ferreting the child away to a hideout. “We pretended as if we were leaving the State empty-handed and even booked trains tickets to convey that impression. But we were actually hiding in the same locality. After a few days, the child was shifted back to Ladhuram’s house, which was when we entered it and took her away,” said a police officer, who was part of the team.
Chandini was living with her parents in Mysore till the demise of Arjun Lal, who was running a pawn broking shop along with Ladhuram. His family suspected Hemalatha and her relatives were responsible for Arjun’s death, which was why Ladhuram took Chandini away, according to the police.
“Hemalatha says Arjun died in an accident. But when we went to the Rajasthan village, they showed us a Bangalore court order, according to which Hemalatha’s brother had been convicted for Arjun’s murder, though she was acquitted,” said a police officer.
For her part, Hemalatha said: “My child was badly treated by my husband’s family members. Ladhuram had taken away many valuables from the pawn shop, which was financed by my father. To access the bank deposit in Chandini’s name, he took her away.”
Months after her husband’s death, Hemalatha shifted base to Mahakavi Bharathi Nagar in Chennai’s Vyasarpadi. She lodged multiple complaints with the Bangalore police, but failed to get any positive response. “In August this year, she filed a missing complaint with us,” said sub-inspector Gopinath, who was part of the rescue team. A month later, she filed an HCP, following which the high court ordered the MKB Nagar police to produce the girl in court before October 4.
“We could not meet the deadline due to practical difficulties, but will produce the child in court on Friday,” said Inspector Natarajan.