Missing Girl Found After Nine Years in Captivity


The Story of Pooja, the Missing Girl Found After Nine Years

Pooja Gaud, an Indian girl from the state of Maharashtra was found on August 4, 2022, after missing for about 9 years. This is a story of a young girl who was able to escape her captors in what many describe as a miracle.

Missing Girl Found After Nine Years in Captivity

The young Pooja went missing on January 22, 2013, at the age of seven from her school in Mumbai. Reports show that she went missing on her way to school when her elder brother left her behind because of the little fights they had at home.

The missing Pooja was declared wanted in 2013 through different media channels and online platforms but she was nowhere to be found. No one knew what happened to her until she finally contacted her family earlier this month.

What Happened to the Missing Girl?

Pooja says that she was kidnapped by a couple who lured her with ice cream on her way to school in Mumbai after her brother left her behind. The couple did not have their child so they allegedly kidnapped the girl for forced adoption.

The couple took her away from Mumbai to Western India, then Southern India, and threaten to hurt her if she cried or raise an alarm. She was always watched and not allowed to go to school.

The story of her adoption changed when the couples were able to have their child. They began to abuse Pooja and turned her into a mere servant. 

"They would beat me with a belt, kick me, punch me. I was also made to do chores and a long job of over 12 hours."

How the Missing Pooja Escaped from Captivity

The girl knew that she was kidnapped but there was no way she could contact her family, even when her captors had relocated to Mumbai. She did not know any road and was restricted from having access to a mobile phone or the internet.

Seven months ago, the lucky Pooja had a hand on her captor's phone when they were asleep. She searched for her name online and came across a 9-year-old YouTube video that talks about her kidnapping and the number to call if she was found.

It took months for Pooja to find a way out of her captivity, even after having the information she needed to escape. She had to share it with 35-year-old Mrs. Pramila Devendra, a domestic helper where Pooja worked as a babysitter. Mrs. Devendra promised to help her.

It was Mrs. Devendra that took Pooja to the police station for a complaint. The police were able to open an investigation that led to the arrest of the couple.

The Story of Pooja, the Missing Girl Found After Nine Years

Mumbai Police identify Pooja's captors as Harry D'Souza and his wife, Soni D'Souza. The couples have been charged with several offenses including kidnapping, physical violence, child labor, and issuing of threats.

Pooja is now with his family who has lost hope of meeting her again. "My dream is to help my mother financially but I'm not allowed to. I also want to study", Pooja added.

The whole family is excited to see their missing7-year-old girl returning after nine years in captivity.

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