The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ramai granddaughters traced to Mumbai

Mumbai, March 4: Only Laloo Prasad Yadav can solve this mystery because one of the key actors in the case, a 12-year-old girl, will tell the truth “only to Lalooji”.

Varuni is the youngest of the four minor granddaughters of Bihar land revenue minister Ramai Ram who went missing from Patna almost two weeks ago and were found in a Mumbai hotel last night.

Sixteen-year-old Ujjwala Rani, the eldest, is spared the ordeal of explaining their actions over the phone as Laloo Prasad tells the girls from Patna: “Don’t be afraid, come back home safely and we will talk.”

Ujjwala, with the phone pressed to her ear, looks terrified, surrounded by policemen, politicians and journalists and bombarded with questions at the Dongri remand home in south Mumbai.

She and her sisters, including Shweta Rani, 15 and Khushbu, 13, went missing from Boring Road, Patna, on February 21, sparking rumours of abduction. Ramai Ram had even alleged a “conspiracy” as he said he had insisted on fighting the polls from Hajipur, which is the turf of Ram Vilas Paswan, a new ally of the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief.

The girls were found at Hotel Sea Lord on P. D’Mello Road after local and Bihar police teams acted on an intelligence tip-off. They had registered under the name of “Akash and family”, accompanied by Syed Umar, a 17-year-old boy.

The girls’ father, Vijay Kumar, had accused Umar of abduction in a complaint filed with Patna Secretariat police station.

A shaken Ujjwala’s version of the events, however, didn’t match the earlier claims or the police’s take on it.

“We were watching TV when our parents scolded us badly. We were very hurt and decided to run away from our home,” she said.

As the crowd around her gaped in apparent disbelief, she said, after a moment’s thought: “But our parents love us very much.”

The girls further said they boarded a train in Patna and came straight to Mumbai.

But inspector Manmohan Tiwari said the four first went to Calcutta. “They are a bit rattled,” the officer said by way of an explanation. Tiwari, in Mumbai for the last five days, had been following the case in Bihar.

Ujjwala and Shweta said they called up “everyone we knew” in Mumbai for help. “It was only Umar who came to our rescue.”

But Tiwari said Umar, a former classmate of Ujjwala’s, had accompanied the girls from Patna. Umar, who like the others was a picture of confusion, has been taken into custody and will be taken to Patna for further investigations, the inspector said.

Soon after the girls went missing, the police in Patna had suspected “elopement”. But the police here today refused to specify the motive.

“We are trying to find out how these young girls, who are obviously minor and look like it, could get a room booked in this hotel,” deputy commissioner Himanshu Roy said. “We are investigating the role of the hotel staff.”

Their grandfather today evaded queries and said the picture would become clear only after a thorough investigation.

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