Meet the RPF officer who helped 434 runaway children last year
Despite having the same duties as other RPF officers, Rekha Mishra loves helping women, children and the oldmumbai Updated: Apr 18, 2017 13:24 IST
They say that when your passion meets your profession, it does wonders. This holds true in the case of Rekha Mishra, a 32-year-old Railway Protection Force (RPF) sub-inspector posted at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), who is credited with leading railway’s campaign to rescue runaway children.
Out of 1,150 children rescued by the railway police last year on the Central Railways’ Mumbai division, Mishra was responsible for helping 434 children.
“I like helping women, the elderly and children. While I have the same duties as any other RPF officer, I look out for children on the railway station who have no one accompanying them,” she says.
The railway board under ministry of railways has issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) for ensuring care and protection of children in contact with the railways. But it’s the personal touch that Mishra brings to her work that distinguishes her from her fellow officers.
“Whenever I spot lonely children, I politely ask them about their parents. I take care that they are safe and don’t get into any trouble,” says the lady RPF officer in CST area.
According to Mishra, most of the children who run away from their homes end up at the CST station—the last stop of local and long-distance trains.
After being rescued, the children undergo medical test and are brought to the notice of children welfare committee (CWC).
RPF also seeks help of various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the CWC in reuniting children with their parents.
“Most of the children leave their homes after being scolded by their parents or an elder. In some cases, children come to Mumbai in the hopes of meeting a movie star. But when they reach CST, they are unable to find their way,” said Mishra.
In some cases, the children are kidnapped and made to beg at railway stations. Recently, Mishra and her team rescued a group of children abducted from Madhya Pradesh. Earlier, she had rescued three children who were kidnapped from Chennai.
For Mishra, it’s the praise from parents that keeps her going. “Often the parents don’t know the whereabouts of their children. When we inform them, many start crying. We assure them that they are safe with us,” she says.
Mishra, who hails from Allahabad, belongs to a family of public servants. Her father is a retired soldier. Two of her three brothers are serving in the military.
She considers her grandfather Soorya Narayan Mishra, a freedom fighter, her role model. “When we were young, he would take us to independence and republic day parades. It was his upbringing that imbibed in us dedication for the country,” she said.
Mishra starts her day early and reaches CST around 8am and doesn’t leave before 8pm, covering both morning and evening peak hours at the city’s busiest railway station.
The lady officer says that she lives a disciplined life and her only hobby is to read newspapers and keeping herself abreast of current affairs. She said that she is equally liked by her superiors and staffers, who consider herself devoid of any ego.
When asked how can the police, a much maligned force, improve its image, Mishra said, “It’s an honour when you get to wear the uniform. But you should remember that you are also a common citizen. Don’t consider the work to be a burden. It’s your duty,” she said.