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A living example of determination and relentlessness Police Officer Rekha Mishra recently spoke to Women’s Web about her journey and her work.
Meet the police officer, Rekha Mishra, who has rescued over 1400 lost, runaway, and trafficked children in Mumbai and the number is still counting.
She is no ordinary policewoman; she is credited with reuniting hundreds of missing, trafficked, kidnapped, and runaway children with their parents. She has a knack for identifying such children and years of her painstaking efforts and courage has made her adept at her job.
She was posted at Mumbai’s CST and was in charge of preventing the trafficking of children and women. Her exceptional contribution has even earned her the Nari Shakti Puraskar in 2017
I was inspired to join the police force by my father who was in the army and my bade papa who was a freedom fighter. I was very good at athletics, sports, and public speaking as a child and always wanted to become a cop when I grew up. You could say, “It is in my blood and this is what I was meant to do.”
My siblings and I were taught young to serve others and always help others. We were encouraged to choose a career where we could serve the country and the citizens. When I was younger we had a fixed schedule of waking up early then working out. The day I passed my exams, my father saluted me and said to me, “Always work for the cause and not for the applause.”
I worked very hard and passed my exams in flying colors, I had applied for the role of Sub-Inspector and I was posted at Mumbai’s CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus) where I was in charge of preventing the trafficking of small children and women. I have also done my M.A in English and B.Ed after my bachelor’s.
Rekha Mishra is an expert at identifying children who are in trouble and she has an eye for it. We asked her how she identifies runaway children, kidnapped children, and children who have been trafficked in such a crowded and busy train station.
We look out for children who seem lost and who haven’t got any idea where to go. We are trained to identify such children. Many of the children run away from their homes in villages for better opportunities and because of poor financial conditions. There are others from the age of eight to twelve who have differences with their parents and leave their home, some of them are drug addicts and others come to Mumbai when they want to meet a random Facebook friend.
I helped a sixteen-year-old who ran away from home, she looked lost when she came to Mumbai. Her parents were informed and only when they arrived did we learn that she was pregnant.
In another incident, I nabbed a 45year old man who had kidnapped a 15-year-old young girl in Goa. He was on the run for three days, when I saw the girl I quickly pulled her aside while my team arrested the kidnapper. The Goa police had sent us a photo of the girl, The kidnapper had molested the girl and wanted to marry her.
There are other incidents where children get influenced by social media and come to Mumbai to meet their favorite stars or to pursue acting.
I have always had a very supportive family especially my in-laws, they understand my work and support me to the hilt. My parents were always encouraging and they inspired me to be the person I am today. Sometimes I do face questions from a few of my relatives though. I am married and in my mid-thirties so I often get asked, “When are you going to have children?”
I spend almost 12-14 hours working every day and I am not only proud of what I do but I also love my work. Children are not the only things that make a woman. My priorities are intact-my work, the service that I do, and my country. I am proud of my ambition, my work, and my relentlessness.
My colleagues and my seniors at work have been nothing but supportive. At the end of the day, we all want to do our work well and serve our country. We all share the same feelings and drive to do our best. We work together in sync and discuss our plans in detail together. We discuss rescue plans with our seniors and take their guidance
She has rescued over 1400 kids to date. We asked her to speak about child trafficking, kidnapping, and children who run away from home.
Thousands of children are abducted on an annual basis or they leave their homes after being scolded by their parents and elders. They end up on station platforms and terminals, CST being the last stop for long-distance trains experiencing the largest traffic for such children.
Some of them are sexually exploited and find themselves a part of begging and pickpocketing rackets. Parents need to have good communication with their children and they need to enforce discipline and lovingly explain to them.
We have to counsel the children for many hours to convince them to go back to their homes; we even take time and explain to their parents. Children are vulnerable and prone to exploitation so it is our responsibility to protect them at any cost.
Children who are a little older between the age group of 8 to 12 are more prone to kidnapping as they can be molded and forced into begging and prostitution.
“There is no better feeling than reuniting a child with his/her parents.” These are not criminals we are dealing with but with young tender-aged children. We can’t just leave the children after rescuing them. We don’t just leave them at the station and go home in the evening. I make sure that I and my team are there for them we ensure that they feel safe and no harm comes to them.
My day usually begins at eight in the morning and I work for almost twelve to fourteen hours covering both the morning and evening peak hour timings. She wants every public servant to treat their duties as their privilege and not as a thankless job or burden.
The happiness and the praise she receives from the parents of the missing children are all the motivation she needs.
On International Women’s Day in 2018, Police Officer Rekha Mishra was awarded the Nari Shakti Puraskar at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi for her contribution and bravery in rescuing lives. She was also given the prize money-one lac rupees which she donated to the NGO Childline which rescue and rehabilitate lost and troubled children. She believes that the rescued children are more in need of the money than her.
Education and awareness are very important. We feel that most of the cases that happen are because of children getting abducted but a lot of times they have run away from home.
We need to talk to our children and give them a reality check once in a while. If they do run away from home influenced by a celebrity, trying to meet a Facebook friend, drugs, or simply because they are upset with their family; where will they stay? What will they eat? Do they have the money to support themselves? Most times the Facebook friend they travelled all the way to meet doesn’t even exist.
Small children as small as nine years do drugs and leave their homes for want of a better life but sometimes they forget that the life they are living is already good, they should be thankful for it. Some underage children fall in love and elope but it is more important to finish your education and stand on your own feet. Parents should not pressurize kids and counsel them.
We must talk to our children lovingly and instill good values in them. The police force goes out of their way and does their bit by educating people, helping children and women in need, and always being on the lookout for any unusual activity. I am currently training in Lucknow and teaching many others to do their job well. It is not just enough to be a good police officer; we need to have sensitivity and humanity towards others as well.
Always believe in yourself and your dreams, work hard towards achieving them and never give up. Despite being so good at what I do; I faced a lot of sexist questions and remarks from society and a few of my relatives about my work and marriage. I hope women draw inspiration from me and realise that they can do anything they want and excel at it. They have the courage and power within them to write their own stories and be heroines of their lives.
Police Officer Rekha Mishra is not only courageous but is also very sensitive, relentless, and has an unwavering spirit. She has been instrumental in solving the rampant problem of missing children in India.
Her achievements are now a chapter in the SSC textbooks in Maharashtra. We salute her courage, determination, and spirit.
As she says, “Even after a tiring day’s work I am never too tired to run to the rescue of a child. There have been so many times when someone has messaged me about a child just when I was about to leave office. This is what I love to do and this is my calling. My heart beats for forlorn children.”
Thank you for all that you are and all that you do Rekha Mishra.
Image Source: Mumbai Mirror
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