MUMBAI - An Indian policeman who got lost as a child at a crowded railway station has been reunited with his family after 24 years - thanks to a tattoo on his arm.
Ganesh Raghunath Dhangade was separated from his parents in 1989 aged just six when they were boarding a train. He ended up on his own in Mumbai, where he was cared for by a fisherman and then at two orphanages.
A car accident later left him unconscious for four months, struggling to remember details of his family or home, and he spent years rummaging through missing person records at police stations - before joining the force himself in 2011.
"I had not given up on finding my family," Dhangade told AFP on Thursday.
He pressed on with his search using the only clue he had: a tattoo of his mother's name, Manda, on his right arm.
Another piece of the puzzle - forgotten after his car crash - came from records at his first orphanage, where he had given his home place as "Mama Bhanja", a forested area in a district neighbouring Mumbai.
Earlier this month, Dhangade went back to the area with his police colleagues asking for Manda, and he was directed to the hut of an old lady who had been staying in the hills there 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." Dhangade now ensures he spends as much lost time as he can with his mother, two brothers and sister.
"I still cannot believe what has happened in recent weeks," he said.
"It's really God's wish. A miracle."