Children and senior citizens going missing at huge congregations is nothing new. But this novel intervention by the Tirupati Urban district police helped trace two dozen victims in no time.

Coinciding with the ‘Maha Sivaratri Brahmotsavam’ from February 19 to 27, the Srikalahasti police embarked on a task of providing a tag to as many as 10,150 children and senior citizens, the likely victims of ‘going missing’ in crowded areas. The tag is a plastic-coated dampness-resistant hard paper, to be tied to the wrist of the children entering the temple area. In another new initiative, a ‘Seva Dal’ was formed as a parallel arm, to serve the pilgrims, guide them to their destinations or get them access to drinking water or buttermilk sachets. This band of volunteers, also comprising of cops, helped trace 20 people lost in the melee when the processions were on.

The ‘tag’ idea is simple. The mobile number of the parent/relative is written on the tag. Whenever a lost child is found crying or a senior citizen loitering around for help, the cops on duty will hand them over to the ‘Seva Dal’ volunteers, who will call up the mobile number. In fact, any Good Samaritan can call the parent or hand the victims over to the nearest police outpost. Actually, the system was introduced on a trial basis by Superintendent of Police R. Jayalakshmi during the Tirumala and Tiruchanur Brahmotsavams last year. As it proved successful in removing mental agony of the parents and eliminating the hardship in searching for the kids, the same was replicated at Srikalahasti.

“We helped ten tagged children and four kids without tags join their respective parents.” says DSP (Srikalahasti) D.Venkata Kishore.