Anil Kumar starts his day at 8am as he takes out his auto-rickshaw and roams around the streets of the Capital, looking for passengers. Well acquainted with the PCR staff, traffic police and beat officials, he greets them with a smile as he confidently manoeuvres on his daily route in southeast Delhi.
Apart from ferrying passengers, the 40-year-old resident of Sangam Vihar has taken up another responsibility. As he moves around Delhi in his auto, he keeps an eye on the roads looking for stranded children. Wherever he finds a kid roaming about, he stops and enquires if he has lost his way. He then makes sure the child reaches home.
Kumar has attached himself with the police and keeps enquiring about children who have gone missing from the area, with the hope of finding them on the road somewhere.
“It all started with an accident but now I take it as my responsibility. A few months ago, I saw an eight-year-old roaming around in Nehru Place. He looked lost and was crying. I asked him how he reached here. He told me he took a bus and his home was very far. I enquired about the bus number and then found out that he had come from Dwarka,” he said.
Kumar said, “I asked him if he remembered his parent’s phone number. He gave me a number and luckily when I called on that number, it was his mother. She told me they stay in Dwarka Mor. I went to drop him home and his mother was very happy. I felt very satisfied.”
Since that day, Kumar started looking out for children roaming alone. In another case, reported on May 13, after he dropped a passenger to Kalkaji, Kumar spotted a four-year-old sitting on the roadside near Deshbandhu College. He approached the kid but he refused to talk to Kumar.
“He was crying and I knew he had lost his way. I bought him a soft drink and then started enquiring about his parents from the locals. For three hours, I took him around B, C and E blocks and then went door to door. When we could not find anything I took him to the local police station,” he said.
“The beat constable and I took the kid around the area again and went to different blocks. A person finally identified the child and directed us to his house. His grandparents had been looking for him and were very happy to see him.”
Following these incidents, Kumar asked the police to share with him details of children who had gone missing so that in case he spots them on the road, he can help reunite them with their families.
“The kinds of incidents involving children that we hear these days scare me. It is important that citizens participate in making the city safe. I am not doing anything extraordinary. I am just doing my duty. Like I take care of my two sons, aged 6 and 11 years, these children who have lost their way are also my responsibility,” he said.
DCP, southeast, MS Randhawa said, “If all citizens become as active, helpful and involved as Kumar, then crime can definitely be prevented. We have recommended him for an award.”