Update: An earlier version of this story had mis-spelled the name given to the girl by the care home.
The story of the "Mowgli girl" in India received a twist when two men claiming to be her uncles approached a care home for the mentally ill where she is currently being cared for.
The girl, initially reported to be about 8 years of age but now believed to be 11 years, was rescued from a forest in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in late January. Media reports had suggested she was being taken care of by a troop of monkeys in the forest. The girl walked mostly on all fours and could not speak any human language.
But authorities and doctors have denied these reports and suggested that she could be mentally ill and could have been in the forest for only a few days before she was rescued.
She was undergoing treatment at a hospital near where she was found but was on Saturday (8 April) moved to the care home in the state capital Lucknow.
Suresh Singh Dhapola, the head of Nirvan School for mentally challenged children, told IBTimes UK in an exclusive phone interview that the two men said the girl, who they called Alida, had gone missing from her home about 13 months ago.
He said on Sunday (9 April), the two men -- from Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh -- arrived at the home with a photograph of the girl. The photo they brought only had the girl on it and not her parents, he said.
It was not immediately clear from where the girl went missing and if the family had sought police help to trace her.
Dhapola said he will contact the police and inform them of the development, adding the girl will be handed over to her parents when they come forward, but only after a DNA test to establish the family's claims.
Not raised by monkeys
After reports went viral saying the girl was raised by monkeys in the forest, which also earned her the name "Mowgli" girl -- from Rudyard Kipling's popular children's tale The Jungle Book -- officials said no monkeys were around when she was rescued from the jungle. The central character in the book is Mowgli who was raised by wolves in the jungle.
The officials also said when she was found, the girl was fully clothed, contrary to media reports that she was naked. Medical experts attending to her said that her behaviour could be attributed to serious mental illness.
Dhapola said the girl arrived at the care home on Saturday and they have named her "Ehasas" meaning 'feeling'. He agreed that the girl could be mentally challenged and that it would take a month or two to know for sure.
He explained that some children with mental disorders do exhibit animal-like behaviour initially, but with "training and practice they gradually learn our ways". He said Ehasas has already shown remarkable improvement in two months of hospitalisation.
Dhapola said that if the family that has approached him prove to be her genuine guardians, he would request them to keep Ehasas at the care home till she is back to normal.