Did this woman kidnap a toddler?
For an affluent family based in south Delhi, hiring an unverified maid turned out to be a nightmarish mistake after she disappeared with their 18-month-old son within a week.
As the family had not conducted any kind of background checks on the domestic help, the family and police are clueless about her whereabouts.
"Since no police verification was done, we don't even know which state police to contact," a flustered investigating officer told rediff.com.
The maid had told Vikram Singh and his family that her name is Seema. She had walked into the Singhs' bungalow on April 18 and told the family that she had two small children to support and was in dire need of a job.
"She told them that she could do any household chore. She spotted Ishaan in the house and told the family that she could even take care of the child. She went over to little Ishaan and started playing with him. The child seemed to bond with Seema. Seeing the rapport Seema had struck with the child, the Singhs hired her," the officer told rediff.com.
For the next nine days, Seema stayed in the servant's quarters located behind the residence. The family had not asked her to furnish any kind of identity proof. After completing her domestic chores, Seema would take Ishaan out for a stroll to the nearby park at 5.30 pm and return at approximately 7.30 pm.
"On the first day she took Ishaan out, she had told Mrs Singh that it is good for the child to be out in the open," the officer explained.
Reportage: Sahim Salim
Image: The sketch of Seema released by the police
'We have constituted 15 teams to look for them'
On Sunday evening, Seema took Ishaan out for a stroll at 5.30 pm. The family started getting worried after there was no sign of the child or Seema even at 8 pm.
A search party, comprising neighbours and Vikram Singh, went to the park to look for them. When they could find no trace of the duo, they called the Police Control Room at 8.45 pm.
Joint Commissioner of Police (southeast district) Virender Singh Chahal told rediff.com, "Ishaan is 1.5 feet tall and has golden hair and a round face with fair complexion. We did a thorough check of the room in which Seema stayed, but there was nothing of significance in there except for some clothes. We have registered a case of kidnapping (Section 363 IPC) against Seema."
Outside the Singhs' residence, family members were still visibly in a state of shock. No one from the family ventured a comment to the members of the press waiting outside.
Even neighbours in this posh locality declined to make any comment.
Police officials said that the family has not received any ransom calls or a ransom note.
"We have constituted 15 teams from across the force with officers from the elite Special Cell and Crime Branch pressed into action as well. On the basis of the description given by the family, we have prepared a sketch of the accused, which we have circulated across all police stations in the NCR along with Ishaan's photograph. We have also declared a cash reward of 50,000 to anyone who can provide information about the child. We have asked district police officers in the national capital to scan the records of all domestic helps to look for a possible match with Seema's description," a senior police officer said.
According to the description issued by the police, Seema is 5.2 feet tall. She has a shallow complexion with small eyes and long silky hair.
Image: Ishaan Singh