Friday July 29,2011
By Mark Reynolds
THE parents of Madeleine McCann last night pledged to continue the search for their daughter after they dismissed reports that she is in India.
Kate and Gerry McCann were anxiously awaiting the results of DNA tests taken after claims that their missing daughter had been spotted in the north of the subcontinent.
However, after seeing a photograph of the girl they realised she was not Madeleine.
The drama began last weekend when a British woman and an American man saw a girl fitting Madeleine’s description in Leh, a city in northern India.
The pair were convinced they recognised the blonde youngster who was wandering through a market place with a French woman and her Belgian husband.
A huge commotion began as the tourists confronted the couple and tried to wrestle the girl from them.
Police were called and the couple with the child insisted that they were the child’s parents.
[pullquote4 align=”right” cite=”Clarence Mitchell”]Madeleine is still out there and the search for her very much continues
[/pullquote4]Police took their passports while an investigation was launched.
They are conducting DNA tests to see if the girl is Madeleine, who went missing during a family holiday in Portugal in 2007.
However last night Gerry and Kate, both doctors from Rothley in Leicestershire, said they were not hopeful the girl was their daughter.
Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: “Kate and Gerry do not believe the child seen in India was Madeleine. They have seen photographic evidence and concluded that it was not her.
“We remain grateful for people’s vigilance around the world. Madeleine is still out there and the search for her very much continues.”
The Himalayan city of Leh is in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of India.
Despite the McCanns’ statement, police there confirmed they took swabs from the little girl.
A spokesman said: “It all depends on the evidence like DNA for which help from Madeleine’s parents and the British police was required.”
Indian journalist Jupinderjit Singh was in a restaurant at the market place and witnessed the drama as it unfolded.
He said: “I was waiting for my food to arrive when I heard a few foreign tourists arguing outside.
“I saw a couple with a little girl, about six or seven years old, walking on the road with an elderly woman and the American man.
“When I heard the elderly woman shouting that the girl was Madeleine, it caught my attention.
“She said she was sure the little girl with the couple was Madeleine and not their daughter. The American guy even tried to snatch the girl away from the couple.”
Mr Singh said police were called and listened to the foreigners before letting the couple with the child go.
He added: “The little girl was hiding her face behind the French lady. She spoke fluent French, as I heard her speak to the lady she was with.”
Madeleine was days short of her fourth birthday when she went missing in Praia da Luz in May 2007.
Mrs McCann, 43, recently hit out at Portuguese police for shelving the hunt for Madeleine.
She said she and her husband, also 43, should not have been left to carry on the search alone.
She added: “We have been very fortunate that we have had so much support but we have had to really fight to get the help Madeleine needs most. It’s only now, four years on, with the commitment by the Government and the Met police to conduct a review, that the chances of Madeleine being found are improving.”