Seema Dhaka, a head constable of the Delhi Police, became the first cop to get an out of turn promotion (OTP) after she traced 76 missing children and reunited them with their families in a record 60 days. Of these, 56 children are under the age of 14.

A farmer’s daughter from Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district, Dhaka said she had always aspired to join the police force. She achieved her dream once she was inducted into the Delhi Police in 2006.

“I am happy and content with the reward and recognition that I have got for my work. Such OTPs encourage us to put in a lot more effort,” she said. She added that she never imagined she would become and Assistant Sub-inspector so early in her career as, in her own words, it takes at last 10 years for a promotion from head constable.

Dhaka has served in a number of districts throughout the national capital including Outer District and Rohini. In 2014, when she was promoted to head constable, she was posted in South East Delhi. She was transferred to Outer North Delhi district in 2017.

The head constable, who is experienced in handling investigation of molestation cases, said that she had a lot on her plate but yet wanted to do more. On hearing about Delhi Police Commissioner SN Srivastava’s out of turn promotion initiative for cops involved in tracing missing children, Dhaka was motivated to take up more cases.

“I requested my seniors to allow me to trace missing children. I also assured them that the cases I am already working on won’t suffer or their investigation won’t get delayed,” she said, adding that her seniors trusted her to take up additional cases.

Having set out to the task, Dhaka set a target of two months for herself to locate the missing children. Most of her cases involved children who had been separated from their families and disappeared years ago. Some of these cases date as far back as 2013. “Those cases were not solved back then, but I started gathering inputs and solved them,” she said.

Dhaka said that other than the police, locals also helped her traced and reunite missing children with their families, “When people came to know what I was trying to do, they started giving more inputs,” she said.

The head constable said that she did not hesitate to take up cases which were not under the criteria for OTPs — cases wherein the children in question were over 14 years old. “I did not hesitate in taking those cases because my aim was to recover as many kids as possible,” she said.

The Baghpat native said that she was inspired to join the police because of a neighbour back home. “Bhaiya always used to narrate stories of his investigation that inspired me to join the force,” she said.

It is not just about job satisfaction for Seema, who views her job as social service. She said she appreciates the blessings she gets from parents after they are united again with their children.

Herself a mother of an eight-year-old boy, Dhaka said she could not go home to her family as work kept her busy. Her husband, who is also a head constable from her batch, watches their son while she is away.

“My son would count days. He would remind me that I haven’t met him in so many days,” she recalled. Her in-laws have also been supportive of her drive to find missing children, she said.

Her passion for locating missing children will not decrease after the promotion. In fact, she said, the OTP has encouraged her to carry out the work further.

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