Rekha Mishra joined the Railway Protection Force in 2014. Sincere and dedicated at work, she has single-handedly rescued 434 children in the last year alone at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station, nearly half of all the children rescued by railway police in the last year.
Coming from a family full of Army men, Rekha says she was always taught to look out for children. According to the Mumbai Mirror, most of the children she rescues are from UP and Bihar and they are in the age group of 13 to 16. Talking about how she figures who needs to be rescued, she said the kids who are running away mostly get down at the last stop.
“Little kids—boys and girls—and young women, you can sort of make out that they are vulnerable, and looking for someone to assist them.”
She does more than just look out for such kids—she thinks it is important to follow up on leads and work on calls she receives from her fellow officers.
“And sensitivity, of course, helps. The kids have to learn to trust you. While some have simply run away from home, there are many other who have been sexually abused. Some don’t even want to return home. So, one has to proceed cautiously.”
However, out of the 434 rescued children, they could trace the parents of only 28 kids. The remaining kids were handed over to the Child Welfare Committee. She works with a team of people who are trained to take care of these children keeping their best interests in mind. Santoshi Dhekle, a team member of Community Committed Development Trust, told The Hindu that,
“After medical tests, and following procedures like making entries with and filling up documents at station manager’s office, we take the child for further investigation. We try to find out their parents so we can send the kids home. Or we have to send them to the remand home in Mankhurd or Dongri.”
Rekha has already rescued more than 100 children since the beginning of this year. They expect the number of children they find stranded to increase because of the upcoming holidays. At times, she just stays with the rescued kids at the station until due action can be taken because she feels they are her responsibility.
Rekha is also an athlete who has taken part in a lot of state-level events representing her department. Senior officials also mentioned that they are in the process of recommending her for awards.