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New Delhi: Braving challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic, Seema Dhaka from the Delhi Police had worked hard to trace missing children over the last few months.

Dhaka travelled across the country, including West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, and succeeded in reuniting 76 children with their families. Some cases were tough to solve and sometimes even involved crossing rivers by boat.

“There was an incident where a seven-year old boy had been kidnapped. Tracing the phone number we found indication that the child was in West Bengal’s Debra police station. The entire operation took 7-8 days during which we traveled from Delhi to West Bengal. We had to cross two rivers to get there. After reaching there, we realised there were 120 villages under the police station," Dhaka told Mint while relating the case which took the longest to solve.

“There was an internal family tussle. The boy was kidnapped from Delhi and taken to West Bengal," she added.

Dhaka has become the first person from the Delhi Police to receive an out-of- turn promotion for tracing the highest number of missing children. In the last three months, Delhi Police authorities have reunited 1,440 missing children with their families.

“Each child had his/her own story. As and when I found the kids, I made an effort to re-unite them with their parents. I had a lot of old cases starting from 2013. Each case had its own difficulties. These kids included those who had run away from home after being cajoled or those who had come under the influence of alcohol and drugs," said Dhaka, who is stationed at Samaypur Badli under Delhi's 110042 pin code.

In August, Delhi Police commissioner S N Shrivastava had announced additional incentives for police officials who rescue 50 or more missing children below the age of 14 within a year. The incentives included out of turn promotions.

According to official reports, 5,412 children were reported missing in 2019 and approximately 60% were traced. This year, 3,507 have been reported missing but the rate of tracing has increased to 74.96%.

“The idea of the promotion scheme was focussed on tracing missing children. She is the first person to have completed this feat. Since August, we have traced 1440 children, but during this period approximately 1200 children were lost. Through this scheme, we have found children from cases which were registered earlier as well," Eish Singhal, Delhi Police public relations officer, said.

Dhaka said children were traced at various places, including railway stations, and presented before child welfare committee. Of the 76 children, 56 were under the age of 14 years. The reasons for the children going missing include fights at home, addiction to drugs and even coming under the influence of people outside their homes. She said that sometimes these children just need the confidence to return to their homes once again.

“The out-of-turn promotion has only given me the motivation to do better in my job," she said.

Delhi Decoded is a weekly podcast. You can listen to all the episodes here.

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