In an intriguing case that left investigators baffled for five years, the women’s safety wing and anti-human trafficking unit in Telangana have finally cracked the mystery surrounding a woman who disappeared, erased her digital presence, and began a new life with a completely different identity.
The story began when a 36-year-old married woman from a wealthy family mysteriously vanished from her home in Humayunnagar, Hyderabad on June 29, 2018. She meticulously erased all traces of her digital and personal identity, including her religious affiliation. She even got married to another man and changed her physical appearance while starting a new life working with an NGO in Maharashtra.
Initially, her disappearance was believed to be linked to a dispute with her husband, and her father filed a habeas corpus petition in the Telangana high court. But it was only recently that investigators discovered her updated Aadhaar card, which helped them track her to Goa, where she was leading a new life.
According to the Additional Director General of Police, women safety wing, Shikha Goel, this case stands out among others they have handled. It was not a case of family disputes but rather an individual who deliberately erased her digital and personal identity to start afresh.
The woman had disappeared twice before in 2014 and 2015 during disputes with her husband, but she had always returned home. In 2018, her father filed a dowry harassment complaint, alleging that she had gone missing due to harassment, leading to a police case being registered.
The investigation initially focused on analyzing CCTV footage, which indicated she had left her home willingly. However, the trail went cold until her father approached the high court in 2019, which then directed the women’s safety wing and anti-human trafficking unit to assist in the investigation.
With the help of her friends, who revealed she had used another mobile phone to book a cab, and her voice recording with the cab company, investigators were able to gather leads. However, the probe faced setbacks when she sold her phone, and the COVID-19 pandemic further complicated matters.
Finally, a breakthrough came when her updated Aadhaar card details were discovered. This led to the disclosure of her bank account information and subsequent digital investigation, which revealed her new identity on social media.
Using facial recognition technology, the police apprehended her in Goa and presented her before the court. During her court appearance, she expressed her desire for independence, which was granted.
Source: This article is based on the following source: “Telangana: Woman who vanished 5 yrs ago resurfaces under new identity”, The Times of India.