Four-year-old rescued from Andhra forest infested with elephants

Anxious parents with the help of neighbors searched the entire village but could not find her. Other villagers also joined in the search

Amaravati: A four-year-old girl, who went missing into a forest in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district, has been traced by the police after strenuous efforts for 36 hours.

After a massive search operation by Chittoor police, the girl was traced at Ambapuram in Kangundi reserve forest, which is known to be a habitat of elephants and other wild animals.

The girl had gone missing at Nakkalagutta village in Kuppam Mandal on Saturday evening.

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Joshika, daughter of an employee of Dravidian University, was found missing while playing with her friends near the house.

Anxious parents with the help of neighbors searched the entire village but could not find her. Other villagers also joined in the search.

As the girl remained untraced till the early hours of Sunday, the parents lodged a complaint with the police. Since the forest is infested with elephants and other wild animals, the family and villagers were worried about her safety. The police along with the villagers searched the area surrounding the village. They also searched water bodies on the forest fringes.

Police also pressed into service a sniffer dog to trace the child. After sniffing some clothes and footwear of the child, the dog picked up a scent trail and headed towards the forest. However, the dog stopped at the forest edge.

Not ruling out the kidnap angle, Superintendent of Police Y Rishant Reddy had also alerted all police stations in Chittoor and neighboring districts, including adjoining Tamil Nadu.

The frantic search operation continued till late Sunday without any breakthrough.

The next day, police resumed searching deep in the forest. Around noon, a police team heard feeble sounds of a child from the bushes and they moved in to see the girl lying on the ground. The girl, who suffered minor bruises, was taken to a hospital in Kuppam, and after the first aid was handed over to her parents.

Police were continuing further investigation amid suspicions that the girl was kidnapped as surviving in the forest for nearly 40 hours amid intense heat and without food or water may not have been possible.

Local police officers were waiting for the girl to fully recover to narrate what had happened when she was playing with friends.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police K V Rajendranath Reddy has appreciated the teams of Chittoor police for their swift response and for demonstrating professionalism in tracing out the missing girl within 36 hours.

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