MUMBAI: Rekha Mishra is no ordinary policewoman. The 32-year-old Railway Protection Force (RPF) sub-inspector is credited with rescuing 434 destitute, missing, kidnapped or runaway children.
Her workplace for last four years is Mumbai’s busy Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station. “Since trains terminate here the runway children are left with no alternative but to get down and that is how most of them end up at this station,” Rekha told The Sunday Standard.
Years of her painstaking efforts to reunite children with their parents have now found way to the Maharashtra State Board’s Class 10 textbook in Marathi. In 2014, the first boy she rescued had run away from his home at Thane after a petty fight with parents. She found him sobbing at a secluded corner of a platform. “I went to him. Spoke a lot to make him talk. I got to know that he had run away from home. Then I kept on chatting with him and got contact details of his parents. We called them and handed him over to them. He was reluctant but went after a lot of persuasion,” she recollects.
Rekha has developed the knack to identify such children, befriend them, extract information from them on their hometown and contact details of parents. She is also mastered formalities that the police have to do before they can handover children to their parents or to shelter home.
She remembers three Tamil girls, who claimed that they were kidnapped and had managed to sneak out from clutches of the kidnappers. “We didn’t know each others’ language. I caught hold of a Tamil women commuter and asked her to help us. I had stayed back at the station for 48 hours.”
“The best thing to happen in my opinion is that the RPF personnel are sensitised. From our WhatsApp groups I keep getting information about children found on railway stations and the efforts of our colleagues to reunite them with their families.”
Rekha says while her seniors always encouraged her, the job came naturally to her by virtue of being a woman. “Being a woman has several advantages. In my case, it comes in the form of the trust that I can instil in the minds of these children even though I’m in uniform. That helps me in getting information easily.”
After the news came that the Maharashtra State Board will recognise her work, the RPF SI was felicitated at a function organised by Central Railway General Manager D.K. Sharma. “It’s a moment of great pride for me. But, more than that the issue of runaway or kidnapped children has come to fore. That is an important thing,” she asserts.