THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The suicide of the three Konni-based runaway schoolgirls has triggered a massive change in the investigation of man missing cases with the railway police control room now acting as a hub to deal with such cases.
As per estimates, 75 per cent of the children who flee home use trains. With the start of what is called Operation Mastan, between 27 and 30 missing children are being found every month by a small team of Government Railway Police (GRP) officers.
A dozen police officers in six major railway stations are designated exclusively to look for missing people. The gang scouts every train that passes through the station from two different ends looking for minors who travel under suspicious situations.
They carry the photographs of missing persons on smartphones and also receive new missing person details on whatsapp from the railway control.
Though the system was in existence even before the Konni case, coordination issues occurred then and Pathanamthitta police were late in sending out photographs to GRP officers.
Today all GRP men are expected to maintain a smartphone and all sub-inspectors of local stations are expected to inform man missing cases to the GRP control room before the case is registered.
“For example last night, a 17-year-old girl from Varkala was found missing. Police picked her up at Aluva with her lover, a 20-year-old workshop worker, based on local police inputs. The duo was sent home with no cases being registered officially,” said GRP Deputy Superintendent N. Rajesh who takes care of stations between Parassla and Aluva.
Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Ernakulam are the stations under his jurisdiction that have teams to find children.
Taxi drivers and autodrivers in places like Ettumanur and Kottayam maintain Whatsapp groups where police keeps on sending pictures of missing people.
Last month, seven schoolchildren who fled from their school at Kayamkulam were caught from Varkala and were reunited with their parents.
Also on Friday night four 15-year-olds who ran away from Vaikom was found from Ernakulam South station.
“Children generally don’t make attempts to flee as officials are trained to sweet talk and take them out of trains,” Mr Rajesh added....