The image of a 16-year-old ‘tourist’ wearing school shoes lingered in his mind, even as auto driver Padam Chand (50) drove back home after ferrying his young passenger around the capital. The girl had gone missing from her hometown of Pratapgarh on Friday, and her mother had lodged a missing person’s complaint at the police station. By Saturday night, Delhi Police had sent the girl to a children’s home, counselled her, and contacted her mother — all thanks to Chand and his son.
On Saturday afternoon, Chand picked up the girl from outside the New Delhi Railway Station, unaware that she had run away from home after a fight with her mother.
“She told me she wanted to see some temples in Delhi. I took her to Chattarpur Mandir, Birla Mandir and then to India Gate, where she requested me to take her to a restaurant. I finally dropped her off at Bengali Market,” said Chand.
“As she got down at Bengali Market, I noticed her school shoes and realised she might be a student. I took Rs 550 as auto fare and came back home. But I kept thinking about the child, who would be roaming on the streets of Delhi at night,” he added.
Once home, Chand told his son Vijay, a home guard, about the girl.
“He told me I should not have left the girl alone and we set out to look for her,” Chand, who lives in Chawri Bazar, said.
The search did not take too long. The girl was sitting on the footpath at Tansen Marg.
“She was sitting alone. My son asked her what she was doing there. She initially tried to hide the truth from us but finally broke down,” said Singh.
The duo made a PCR call and once the police reached, the girl told them she was a Class X student and had run away from home after her mother scolded her.
DCP (New Delhi) Madhur Verma said their team counselled her and got her mother’s number.
“Her mother told us she had lodged a missing complaint in Pratapgarh. On Saturday, a team from UP reached Delhi. Her mother will come on Monday. The girl was angry with her family,” said Verma.