On August 5, in the midst of lockdowns and chaos, the Delhi Police Commissioner S.N. Shrivastava announced an initiative that would allow officers to receive "out of turn promotions" for successfully recovering 50 children in the span of 12 months.
"In order to motivate the police personnel to trace or recover the children, who have gone missing from their home, the Commissioner of Police issued an incentive scheme on 5th August' 2020 to the effect that ...any Constable/Head Constable who recovers 50 or more missing children below the age of 14 years (15 children out of them of the age group less than 08 years) within a period of 12 calendar months will be considered for the grant of out of turn promotion."
33-year-old Seema Dhaka set to work and in the course of three months tracked down 76 missing children and returned them to their homes. 56 of the children recovered are reported to have been under the age of 14 and the remaining 20 were between the ages of 14 and 16 years old. According to NDTV, many of the children she recovered had been separated from their families for years.
She joined the police force in 2006 according to the Times of India and in 2011 attained the rank of head constable. Now, she has been promoted to assistant sub-inspector.
"I will be at a higher rank than my husband," she said to TOI, "and my relatives are joking about it."
When asked about what had motivated her to push herself so much that she didn't even take a day off during the course of those three months, she told to the Hindustan Times, "I have an eight-year-old son. I could feel what the children felt on being separated from their parents, what the parents felt on losing their children. That motivated me to work harder."
She told reporters about one case in particular where she had traced a boy who expressed to her that he did not want to return home as his step-father was abusive to him. Dhaka made sure to notify the boy's mother about the abuse and got her agreement to actively take care of the boy after she left. She also secured counseling for the boy and his parents.
"Though children above 14 are not a part of the out-of-turn promotion scheme, a 15-year-old girl who had been kidnapped was rescued from Tigri Dham in Almora," Dhaka recalled. "I can't tell you in words how happy the girl was when we turned up. She had been married forcefully and had two children. She was kept locked in her house and was not even given proper food."
"Her parents were overjoyed to see the girl."