He’d been arguing with his mum and wasn’t ready to go home yet. It turned out the man knew Sanoj’s father. He was on his way to visit him and offered to take Sanoj along.
They boarded a train together. As the train took him far away from his home in Delhi, Sanoj started to suspect the man wasn't telling the truth. He realised he was in real danger.
Somehow he managed to escape and get off the train, but now he found himself alone in a vast and crowded station. Barely able to move amid the crush of bodies, Sanoj had no idea where he was or how to get home.
He was bewildered and anxious. He’d have been even more frightened if he’d known that every minute he spent alone on a busy railway platform, he was in grave danger of violence, exploitation or sexual abuse – a target for strangers who prey on lone children.
Somehow he squeezed his way through the sea of people and onto a train. He thought it was bound for Delhi, but he’d made a mistake. Instead it was taking him even further away from home, east towards to Lucknow.
Sanoj gasped for breath in the fuzzy heat. He felt sick. Peeping up at the expressionless faces in the packed carriage, he wondered who he could trust. Should he ask a stranger for help? Or was it safer to keep his mouth shut?
Sanoj was lucky. It was a Railway Protection Force Officer. Trained in child protection by Railway Children, the officer knew the signs that mean a child could be in danger. At the next station, the officer took Sanoj to one of our Child Protection Booths.
They got him to sit down and have something to drink. Soon he felt calm enough to go with them to one of the drop-in centres we fund. With the help of the police, our staff tracked down his mother. She’d been frantic with worry.
One of our workers took Sanoj all the way back to Delhi and into his mother’s arms.
Sanoj never had to spend time on the streets – where the dangers are even greater than at the stations. His story has a happy ending because we reached him so swiftly.