Mumbai: Fourteen-year-old Farheen Shaikh loved watching serials and Hindi films on television. The only thing that stood between her and her favourite pastime was her father, Ansar Ali, a cleric, who believed television viewing was a bad influence on his daughter.
Consequently, Farheen would sneak into her neighbour’s home to watch television and avoid a scolding from her father.
Three months ago, when she was caught in the act at their neighbour’s place, her father summoned her home immediately. She was, however, so engrossed that, for nearly two hours, she forgot her father had called her home.
When realisation dawned upon her, she became scared of her father’s likely anger and decided to flee instead. For the next three months, she was nowhere to be found despite a missing complaint filed by Ali at the Malvani police station.
In the last week of April, Farheem’s uncle spotted her with some ragpickers outside Churchgate station. “Her uncle saw her and sought help from the railway police, who handed over the girl to the Malvani police station. Her father was informed and the teenager was reunited with her family,” senior police inspector VR Andhale of the Malvani police station said.
“Farheem had been collecting rags for some months and slept with footpath dwellers near the station,” said a police officer. She sustained herself by the meagre earnings from selling garbage.
The police said Ali is a cleric who teaches Arabic in a local mosque. After he filed a missing complaint, Farheem’s sketches and physical description were passed on to police stations across the city.