The mother of a missing toddler reportedly told police that a man pushed her to the ground before abducting her child and running away in Melbourne’s north. Police are treating as suspicious the disappearance of Sanaya Shaib, believed to be aged 15 months, who vanished from Olympic Park in Heidelberg West about 10am on Saturday.
Channels Nine and Seven reported that her mother, Sofina Nikat, ran to her home sobbing and hysterical and told relatives that she had been walking in the park when a man pushed her to the ground, snatched her daughter, and fled.
A family member, Habbib Ali, told reporters Ms Nikat was screaming and crying: “somebody took my child, somebody took my child”.
He told Channel Nine: “Mate, I am just extremely upset, I just want her to come back. Whoever has done this, whatever has happened, please, I plead to the public, if anybody has seen anything”.
Ms Nikat’s cousin Sabinaz Tazim told Fairfax Media she was shocked to hear the news and was worried about the Sanaya’s survival.
“I am just worried about the baby,” Ms Tazim said.
“It is cold. No mother should go through this.”
Ms Tazim said she was praying for the family and the swift return of baby Sanaya.
“The baby has not harmed anyone,” she said. “I can’t think straight.”
Inspector Paul Tymms said police were keeping an open mind about what had happened to Sanaya and would not confirm the media reports.
“Police are investigating the disappearance of a missing one-year-old child under suspicious circumstances, which for operational reasons I cannot comment on,” he said.
“We have a number of police deployed to the command post here, which includes frontline uniform members, search and rescue and we’re also being assisted by the SES.
We’re keeping an open mind to the situation and appealing for witnesses who may be able to assist police or have information about the child’s whereabouts.
The family are of Fijian background and are believed to live locally. Ms Nikat reportedly described the man who took her daughter as being of Somalian appearance and aged in his mid 30s.
A command post has been set up at the park and SES volunteers are helping dozens of police with the search, which is also focusing on rubbish bins around the area.
Police on horseback are searching the perimeter of the park, which includes a football oval. Some of the local players or officials were helping with the search, Fairfax Media understands.
The park also has a children’s playground, which is clearly visible from the surrounding houses.
Sanaya was last seen wearing a short-sleeved white top with pink and yellow hearts, koala print pants, socks, and a black necklace with an oval locket. Anyone who has seen Sanaya or has information about her whereabouts has been urged to call triple zero immediately.