Stolen Children

Photograph for TIME by Prashant Panjiar / Livewire Images

YEARS OF HEARTBREAK: Zabeen's birth mother Fatima at a local tea shop; her daughter was taken as she played outside

Fatima thinks it was her daughter Zabeen's beautiful smile that attracted the child stealer. Playing outside the tea shop near their home in the north Chennai suburb of Washermanpet, with only her four-year-old brother watching, the bright two-year-old was an easy target. While Fatima popped around the corner to the market, Zabeen was bundled into a motorized rickshaw and vanished into the mass of humanity that swirls through the city's squalid alleyways and slums.

"I thought someone had taken her for her kidney," says the weeping mother, clutching a photocopy of her...

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