Kakinada: An intense search for seven-year-old Surada Deepthi Sri Ishani, who was kidnapped on Friday, failed to trace the missing girl. The police are unsure of whether the girl is alive or dead since the girl’s stepmother Shantha Kumari allegedly claimed that she threw the girl into the marsh.

Deepthi, who is a class II student of Nethaji Municipal School in Turangi on the outskirts of Kakinada Town in East Godavari district, was allegedly abducted by a bike-borne couple from her school on Friday.

Sources say that Shantha came to Deepthi’s school during lunch hour. While the girl was playing near the school, Shantha took the girl and went away on a two-wheeler driven by an unidentified man.

Deepthi’s father S Shyam Kumar, who went to the school on Friday evening to pick her up, learnt that his daughter went missing. Kumar lodged a complaint with One-Town police station at Kakinada Town after Shyam, along with his relatives, failed to find the missing Deepthi.

Deepthi is Shyam’s daughter from his first wife who died a couple of years ago. The police examined CCTV footage from various places near the school. The investigation revealed that while Shyam and Shantha reside at the Dairy Farm Centre in Kakinada, Deepthi stays with her grandparents at Pagadalapeta in Kakinada. Shyam used to drop Deepthi at the school around 9 am and takes her back to her grandparent’s house in the evening.

The police roped Dhamadi Satyam, who retrieved the sunken Royal Vasishta Private Tourism Boat from River Godavari, to trace the missing girl in the waters.

“We are not in a position to reveal the accused people behind the kidnapping of the girl since the investigation is still ongoing. We did not rule out the possible involvement of her stepmother Shantha Kumari,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police V Bheema Rao

Sources said that Shantha had given birth to a boy around a year ago. She believes that her husband Shyam has been giving Deepthi priority. Suspecting that her husband will give his assets to Deepthi, instead of her son, Shantha allegedly killed Deepthi and threw her body in the marsh. Shyam’s sister Swathi and his mother Babi mentioned that Shantha has been harassing Deepthi for the past few years.

The police noted that the girl was kidnapped due to some family disputes. “So far, we didn’t get any concrete evidence on the whereabouts of the kidnapped girl. We will solve the mystery as soon as possible,” the officials added.

Five police teams, headed by DSP Bheema Rao, have been formed to search for the girl. While one team sifted through CCTV footage, the others rounded up habitual kidnapping gangs for clues. The local populace mentions that they never heard of such crimes in Kakinada. They are demanding the police to punish Shantha Kumari.

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