Women's day: 1000 runaway kids are now safe thanks to this lady RPF cop
Cop who reunited 1,000 kids with their kin among 100 women to be awarded by President today
Rekha Mishra, a Railway Protection Force (RPF) sub-inspector, is the reason nearly 1,000 lost or runaway children are now safe at home with their parents. This feat is what makes the Mumbaikar one of 100 women to be felicitated by the President today. Mishra, 32, is yet to marry, but said she feels like a mother to the hundreds of children she has saved over the years.
PSI Rekha single-handedly found and rescued as many as 956 runway children — and that's just in 2017. In the three years since she joined the RPF at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), she has reunited hundreds more kids with their families.
Rekha joined the force in 2014, and shot to fame in 2016, when she traced the parents of three young girls who had fled to Mumbai from Chennai. Rekha was on duty when she spotted the girls disembarking from a train without adult supervision. When she confronted them, the girls had no answer for why they were alone. With the help of a translator, it was revealed that they had run away to Mumbai with dreams of a glamorous life. Rekha kept the girls safe in her quarters for the first day, and then buckled down to find their parents.
PSI Rekha Mishra finds most of the runaway kids at CSMT or other railway stations across the city
Why they run
"One of the most common reasons that children run away to Mumbai is because they dream of meeting celebrities; some even want to become movie stars themselves. The sparkle of the silver screen is what draws many kids to this city," said the cop. She added, "Many kids leave their home after they hear a few tough words from their parents; some are terrified of failing their exams. We mainly spot these runaway kids at CSMT."
Of the 956 children she found in 2017, 92 were girls. All the kids were between the ages 8 and 16 years. At such a tender age, sensitivity is the top priority. "Although there is a standard operating procedure (SOP) for such cases, we have to approach it with a human touch, as the children are often scared of the police. Secondly, there is usually a language barrier, as the kids come from all corners of the country. It takes joint effort to overcome these hurdles, and the social media is also a big help in such cases," said Rekha.
"On spotting a child, we have to take them to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), which assigns them to a children's home according to their age. Then begins the hard part — finding their families." she explained.
While the children get a happy ending when they finally meet their parents again, it can be an emotionally taxing process for the cops at times. "Sometimes, I get attached to the children very quickly. Then it is always a bittersweet moment when I reunite them with their families. Last month, I found two brothers, aged 8 and 10, who had run away from UP. I got attached after spending just a day with them. It was a very emotional moment for me as well, when we finally found their parents and brought them together," she recalled.
Rekha is thrilled that her efforts have earned recognition from the government and the President. "At first I couldn't believe that I had been selected for the Nari Shakti Purskar. I am among 100 women across nation who are being awarded for changing lives. This is a big honor for me, as well as my colleagues," she said.
Seniors proud of her
Sachin Bhalode, senior divisional commissioner at Central Railway, said "We have traced more than 1,000 kids in the past year, and Rekha Mishra is one of the officers whose efforts have stood out. Now that her work is getting recognition from the central government, it is a proud moment for us all."
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