Further to my post the other day with regards to the sighting in Leh and my contact speaking directly with Jupinderjit Singh, today further contact has been made and the following has been forwarded to my contact from Jupinderjit Singh.
On reflection, I have taken out the name of the restaurant as I do not think it fair on the restaurant owner to have the name of his premises plastered over blogs and forums. I have also removed the name of the Police Officers as these people do not deserve having searches made by people.
The latest communication is as follows (please note apart from these details being removed nothing else has been altered, including spelling and grammar mistakes):
2 hours ago
Tired of days’ work, I was cooling my heals lounging in the open air ******* Restaurant at ****** Road in the Main market of Leh Town.A small seasonal rivulet flows by its side. I was sipping mint tea and soaking in the silence of Leh. I always sat at that particular spot from where I can look far and deep into the market.
The restaurant closes down at around 11:30 pm daily. That late evening at around 10 pm, I was one of the few visitors left there when a commotion took place at the far end of the ******Road market, which joins the **** Road market. A Tall American Guy was in animated discussion with a woman, who was french- as I learnt later on. She was around 30-32 years old while her Husband was from Belgium. The woman was desperately clutching on to a small girl, probably six or seven years old, who she was carrying in her arms. The girl was probably sleep when an elderly British Lady named Carol, stopped her and tried to take picture of the couple and the girl. Just at the same time a tall and lanky American guy, who we learnt was following the couple for some time, came from behind and tried to snatch the girl. There were cries all around and no one could understand what was happening. A police officer named Ste**** on duty in the market intervened. Two constables were with him.
Leh is a quite place not not more than five murders take place annually. Locals are rarely involved in those murders as it is taxi drivers or labourers, who all are outsiders. And there are rarely such scenes on the road. And is anything nvolves cops, it attracts immediate interest.
I saw them coming towards ******* restaurant as that was a quite place. I must tell here that I dont report from Leh daily. I was visiting Leh for ten days to report on Reconstruction of the town after almost a year of cloudburst tragedy that killed 257 persons, damaged nearly 1500 houses and 27 persons were still missing. So, I did not take much interest taking it as a street brawl probably emanating from eve teasing or some minor issue.
Ste****, the Station House Officer of the Leh city police station winked at me as he sat on the next table. He recognised me and told the french woman , her husband and the British Lady -Carol, that media is here so take care. Carol addressed me saying please no news and no photos. I told them to relax and carry on with the cop. Ste**** told me in Hindi he would brief me later. He said seems to be case of some ‘love child’. Some bystanders were also saying the same thing. I didnt take much interest as our newspaper does not do much local level reporting from there. But my journaoistic sense told me to wait for some time. “After all, Love child can be a good story,” I thought.
Unfortunately, my mobile phone acted funny and the mobile phone camera malfunctioned. I couldn’t take pictures. The police official took passport of the french woman and the belgian husband. He sent one of his two constables to get it photocopied. Meanwhile, he went with Carol to an Internet Cafe and returned after some time. I learnt later on that he had gone to check pictures of Madeline McCan.
He returned and asked the Belgiian man- who was semi bald, wore glasses and was of medium height- about the girl and if they were the real parents? Theman said, “Of course, we are biological parents.” The police official let them go taking a copy of the passports but retained original passport of the Belgian guy. He then narrated me the entire story. I tried talking to Carol but she said she was tired and too upset that she was doing her duty as a citizen but it seems she has landed herself in trouble.
I smelled some big story and planned to check it up next monring. Due to poor Internet connectivity, I could check Google by noon only and read all about the missing Madeline. I spoke to the police official who said Carol has informed the British Police as she did not want to lodge a complaint here as she copuld be called to testify or she could be in trouble with the Embassy.
I met Carol later in the noon and asked her to help me in the story. She said she dont want to be quoted nor her picture to appear anywhere. She confirmed she had sent a communication to the British Police.
I had to return next day as my place of posting is in Jammu. The Leh polcie did not deny the story appearing in my paper. It was only today that after immense media interest from England that they have denied it. Police sources tell me that they fear tourists may be scared away from Leh if it was confirmed that a kdinapped child was recovered from Leh. Or that there was such a possibility.