At just six-years-old, Ganesh Raghunath Dhangade was separated from his parents as the family was boarding a train in 1989. Alone in the bustling city of Mumbai the young boy was raised by a fisherman and in orphanages for most of his young life.
To add insult to injury, he was later involved in a car accident which left him unconscious and unable to recall any details of his past life and family.
Mr Dhangade spent years rummaging through missing persons’ files and records at the local police station before deciding to join the force himself in 2001 and has been searching for his family ever since.
“I had not given up on finding my family,” he told reporters of his never ending quest.
His mother’s first name, ‘Manda’, and a distinctive tattoo were the only clues that the now 30-year-old police officer had about his past.
Earlier this month another piece of the puzzle came to him in the form of a record from the first orphanage he stayed at. The record showed that he had given the name of his home place, ‘Mama Bhanja’, a local area neighbouring Mumbai.
The policeman went back to the area with his colleagues asking for Manda. They were directed to the hut of an old lady who had lives in the hills for years.
“She recounted that she had lost her son years earlier. Asked if he had any identification marks, she said he had a tattoo on his arm. I showed it to her and she immediately recognised it,” Dhangade said.
“We were silent for minutes, then we both just hugged and kept on crying.”
Mr Dhangade has two younger brothers and sisters and was informed that his father past away not long after he went missing.
“Now that I am earning, my mum can stop working and I can take care of the whole family,” he said.
More than 10 children go missing every hour in India and at least four of those are never found according to two-year study by child rights organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA).