A man from the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh claimed the girl who allegedly lived with monkeys in a wildlife sanctuary is his niece who disappeared over a year ago, the Indian Express newspaper reported Monday. Last week, the girl received worldwide media coverage — two months after forest officials found her during a routine patrol in the state’s Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuary.
The 8-year-old girl has been dubbed “Mowgli” because of the likeness with the feral child protagonist from Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.” Local reports said the girl did not appear to understand any language and walked on all fours.
On Sunday, the man identified as Bhullan Ali visited the girl at NGO-run Nirvan Hospital in the state capital Lucknow and claimed she is his niece Aleeza who went missing last March, according to the Indian Express. However, the officials at the hospital were not convinced by Ali’s claim.
“The girl did not respond even a bit on seeing him. If she can start responding to me in just one day, she should react in some manner on seeing her uncle with whom she has lived for eight years. He also did not bring the missing girl’s parents, nor was he carrying any picture of her with family members. We have asked him to come with substantive proof. We will not give her to anyone without a DNA test to confirm their claim,” S.S. Dhapola, the president of the NGO, told the newspaper.
Aleeza’s father Ramzan Ali told the Indian Express that his missing daughter was “mentally unstable.”
“We searched for her all around the village and got an FIR registered. We visited Amethi and Pratapgarh to paste her posters, but we could not find her. We saw this girl’s photo in the newspaper and I asked my brother and uncle to go to Bahraich,” the father reportedly said.
On Saturday, the girl was transferred from a local hospital to Nirvan, where she was given a new name — Ehsaas. According to Dhapola, medical tests showed the girl had low hemoglobin.
Local police officials also dismissed reports that the girl was brought up by monkeys in the sanctuary.
“It’s not possible that a girl spends years in the forest and no staff or hundreds of cameras installed for security and animal census notice her. She might have been dropped here sometime before being spotted by the patrol team,” Divisional Forest Officer Gyan Prakash Singh told Hindustan Times newspaper Friday.
Pediatrician K.K. Verma told the daily that the girl should undergo psychiatric evaluation and treatment.
“The girl might have been left in the jungle by her parents because of mental illness. But it was probably not long before police team rescued her. The theory that she was brought up monkeys seems absurd,” he reportedly said.