Policewoman Rekha Mishra is not an ordinary cop. She is a Railway Protection Force (RPF) officer in Mumbai who has saved over 950 runaway and trafficked children in over six years.
A true example of a brave heart, Rekha narrated her journey and her courageous acts in an interview with Humans Of Bombay.
The 35-year-old was inspired to join the police force right from her childhood. Her father who was in the Army encouraged her and her sister to take a life of service.
To fulfill her dreams, Rekha applied for the role of sub-inspector and worked extremely hard to pass the examinations. The day she passed, her father saluted her and instructed her to always work for a cause, not the applause.
After passing her exams, Rekha was posted at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus where she was in charge of preventing the trafficking of women and children. There she rescued hundreds of destitute, missing, kidnapped or runaway children from various railway stations in the last few years.
She cited one of the incidents where she saved a 15-year-old girl,
I helped nab a 45-year-old man who’d kidnapped a 15-year-old girl. He was on the run for 3 days; they were travelling from Goa. The Goa police sent us the girl’s picture; my team and I surveyed the station. The situation was tense; I couldn’t allow the kidnapper to get away! As I saw the girl boarding the train, I grabbed her hand and pulled her aside while my team surrounded the kidnapper and arrested him. She cried and yelled, ‘Thank you, thank you for saving me!’
Despite her stellar work, she tends to hear a lot of criticism from her relatives who repeatedly say how women officers aren't suitable for groundwork. They also nag her to have children. But Rekha's priorities are intact and she is quite proud of them.
I’m 35 now, and married, so often the ‘when are you going to have children’ question is asked to me. I spend 12-14 hours at the station every day and I’m proud of my duty! Children aren’t the only things that make a woman, a woman–sometimes it’s her ambition, her relentlessness.
She was awarded the Nari Shakti Puruskar in 2017 and had her achievements are included as a separate chapter in the SSC textbooks in Maharashtra.
Women like Rekha who are breaking the glass ceiling every day are a true inspiration for the next generation.
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