Illustration – New York Times (Used for representational purposes only)

Rescue by RCI’s vigilant outreach members

On a sweltering afternoon of October 2022, a bewildered Tanya wandered alone through the chaotic Katpadi Railway Station. The 17-year-old held a desperate look in her eyes, seeking help yet skeptical of strangers. This is when one of our outreach members spotted her.

The vigilant members of RCI’s outreach team directed Tanya towards the Child Help Desk. Here she was provided with essentials such as food and water, before enquiring about the circumstances that led her to the station all alone.

Learning about Tanya’s life before rescue

During our interaction with Tanya, she revealed that she belonged to Sathuvachari, Vellore. Upon asking about her parents’ whereabouts, she shared that her father worked as a mason while her mother was a homemaker. She also had two elder brothers. As for her educational qualifications, she had passed the 10th grade from Thorapadi Government School in 2020; however, due to dismal financial conditions, she could not pursue her higher education and was forced to join the local textile shop.

The month-long escapade

Over a month before her rescue at Katpadi railway station, Tanya had fled her home to be with her boyfriend, whom she had first interacted with through Instagram. She left her home and first moved in with another female friend at Egmore. This acquaintance was also made using the social media app. From there on, Tanya traveled to Chennai to live with her boyfriend and his family. Following her stay of a couple of weeks, Tanya decided to leave for her home.

Enroute her way back home, she halted at Coimbatore railway station, before alighting at Katpadi railway station out of confusion. It was here that she was rescued by our team members.

Intervention by GRP and CWC

After understanding the situation, our team led Tanya to the Government Railway Police for completion of further formalities. From thereon, Tanya was produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). The CWC members not only interacted with Tanya but also her father. Upon hearing about all of Tanya’s whereabouts from the past month, her father was angry and unwilling to allow Tanya to return home.

Consequently, the CWC members asked our staff members to begin the procedure of moving Tanya to an open shelter. The process began by helping Tanya undergo a medical checkup at the Adukamparai Govt. Hospital. With regular counselling for both Tanya and her father, she was reunited with her family with the promise that she would go back to college and continue her education.

*Name and details changed to protect the confidentiality of the child.