Every year, there are countless cases of missing persons reported to police stations all over the world. Because of this, there is now a pressing need for a central database that contains all details of missing, lost, dead, or unknown people for easy revisiting and consideration. This is now the case in Pune, India.
The Exhibition in Pune for Missing Persons and Unidentified Bodies
After over 2 years since his mentally challenged elder brother went missing, Pradhikaran-based Sanjay gets to know that he has died that same day he got lost.
Neelkanth, 50, the brother of Sanjay, happened to be mentally challenged. He left his house in the evening of Dec 13, 2013, and never came back. Since then, whenever somebody informed their family that someone who looked like Neelkanth was seen somewhere, the family members would rush to the place to search for him. Nevertheless, in spite of all their efforts, they weren’t able to locate him for more than two years.
On May 6, the family’s search for Neelkanth finally came to an end. This was a result of an exhibition put in place by Pune Rural Police in their headquarters in Pashan, off Baner Road. It displayed thousands of photographs of people who were missing and of unidentified corpses. This was an effort to get family members together and give them a sense of closure.
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More than 2,500 people came for the exhibition, and in total, 24 cases were resolved, of which 18 cases were that of missing persons and sadly 6 cases of unidentified corpses.
Along with the Pune Rural police, teams from Pune City, Government Railway Police, Pune, New Mumbai, Thane City, Thane Rural, Palghar, Raigad, Ahmednagar, Satara, Sangli, Kolhpaur, Solapur Rural, and Solapur City police participated in the camp.
“Since my brother was mentally challenged, he would go missing for a few days several times in the past, but he always came back,” declares Sanjay, who happens to work with a security agency. Despite his mental situation, he would work for a wedding band in Pune. Whether there was work or not, he would travel daily from Pradhikaran to Pune by a local. That day [December 13, 2013], he was unwell and had fever. I had got medicines for him. By the time my mother went into the kitchen to fetch him water for medicines, he stepped out and didn’t come back.”
Sanjay states that although their regular searches did not bring any result, their expectation was intact. “I had read about a case a few years ago in which a boy was reunited with his family in Kashmir after 15 years. Hence I always hoped my brother must be somewhere,” he said.
Sanjay said that initially, he did not see his brother’s photograph after checking through all the files at the exhibition. He spoke with a police officer, who in turn asked him about his brother’s daily schedule. When Sanjay informed him that his brother would travel by a local train every day, the police officer told him to take a look at the file of Pune Railways. After about an hour of searching the files, Sanjay eventually saw case no. 441, which had the photograph of brother’s body. Neelkanth had died the same day he got missing.
“This kind of exhibition should be organized every three months,” suggested the 48-year-old Sanjay. “There will be so many families who must be living in uncertainty for several years. Also, it should be publicized well.”
Among the people who got lost was a girl from Pune who was declared missing some months ago. From the comments shared by some of the people who came to the exhibition, the police were able to find her in Lonavala. In the same vein, 17 other people who were missing from Pune Rural, Pune City, Solapur City, and Palghar were also searched for.
Among the police units, Pune Rural police had the highest number of missing persons registered, whereas Thane Rural had the most unidentified dead bodies. Guests of exhibition who were able to identify a missing person’s photo were asked to approach the help desk.
The superintendent of the Pune Rural Police, Jay Jadhav, told TOI that pictures of the lost and dead individuals, whose identities are yet to be confirmed, were included in the display for their families to see and help identify them.
“It is necessary to identify the deceased,” said Jadhav. “Dead bodies are recovered from various parts of the state. Sometimes, family members’ search for dead or missing persons ends at these displays.”
An official list of dead or missing persons are also kept by the police units alongside the picture exhibition. This list will greatly help for easy access and cross-checking, and with a list like this constantly updated, we can know where we stand in this cause.
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