Online danger alert: Haryana Roadways bus conductor saves schoolgirl from “friendship” trap

In a heart-warming video that has gone viral, a Haryana Roadways bus conductor explained to the YouTube news channel ‘A to Z Haryana’ how he saved a schoolgirl from falling into the trap of a “friendship” made online.

Haryana Roadways bus conductor saved a schoolgirl
This Haryana Roadways bus conductor tells A to Z Haryana how he saved a schoolgirl. Screenshot courtesy: X/@MrSinha_

The story started in Bahadurgarh, a city in the north Indian state of Haryana, and the conductor discovered how much danger the girl — a bus passenger aged about 15-16 years and wearing a school uniform — was in when the bus reached Chandigarh, in the neighbouring state of Punjab, several hours later.

She was on her way to Amritsar, also in Punjab, to meet a boy who had become her “online friend” while playing some games on the Internet. Their “friendship” conversations had been going on for months, before the boy invited the girl to come and meet him in Amritsar. She decided to run away from home and go to her “online friend”.

Luckily, before she could become lost forever in the labyrinth of this “friendship” scam, which is most likely a front for trafficking, the conscientious bus conductor unearthed the truth and returned the girl to her family in Haryana.

As the conductor, a state government employee, explained in the interview, the girl had boarded the 3.50pm bus from Bahadurgarh, and though she did not have the full amount required for a ticket, the bus terminus staff and the conductor gave her a seat, anyway, next to an elderly gentleman.

Though the conductor felt there was something “off” about the girl’s journey, he did not ask any questions or raise any objections before the bus started from Bahadurgarh.

Once the bus reached the Sector 43 bus stop in Chandigarh late in the evening, the elderly gentleman got off the bus. Before alighting, he told the conductor that the girl sitting next to him was in some kind of trouble.

At the Sector 17 bus stop (also the Inter-State Bus Terminus aka ISBT) in Chandigarh, where the bus halted at 8.15pm, the conductor began talking to the girl to find out what was going on.

He discovered that she was on her way to Amritsar and that she had no money. On being asked if she could give any phone numbers of her family members, the girl said that she had nothing.

She was wearing a school uniform, and carried a bag with school books, but had no money and no mobile phone. The little money she had was already spent on the bus ticket, for which she had paid a partial price. That left her with nothing for the onward journey to Amritsar.

Worried about what would happen to her, the Haryana Roadways bus conductor began taking care of the girl. He found her a safe spot to rest, persuaded her to eat some food, and told her that he would not let her go anywhere unless she let him talk to someone on the phone.

Saying this, the conductor managed to get the number of this “online friend” from the girl and called him. It took two calls for the conductor to figure out that there was no “friend” waiting for the girl. The man who was the owner of the number refused to acknowledge the girl, even when the girl directly spoke to him through the conductor’s phone.

By this time, it was 11pm; the girl had begun crying. She poured out the story of how she had first met the “online friend” while playing Ludo, developed a relationship, and then was asked to come to a lane near the famed Golden Temple of Amritsar. But now that he had refused to acknowledge the friendship, she had nowhere to go.

Determined not to leave the girl stranded, the conductor warned her of the risks she faced from sexual predators unless she went back home. After some counselling, he finally managed to get the number of her brother in Bahadurgarh and contacted the family. The girl’s father, a Haryana policeman, had been frantic with worry; the family had been searching for the girl since that afternoon.

Several phone calls were exchanged, so that the whole family could speak to the runaway girl. Then the family began their journey from Bahadurgarh to bring their daughter back from Chandigarh. It would take several hours for them to reach.

From nearly midnight to early morning, the hero conductor and his helper guarded the girl, who slept at the ISBT shelter. “We did not leave her alone for a minute. If one of us had to take a toilet break, then the other one would stay with her,” he said in the interview.

After the Bahadurgarh family arrived in Chandigarh, there was a tearful reunion between the girl and her family at the bus depot. The hero conductor was requested to accept a small reward, but he declined it politely, saying that he had helped the girl out of “humanity” and that as a government employee, he lacked for nothing financially.

With “online friendship” being one of the commonest ways for criminals to trap impressionable young people all over the world, this story serves as a cautionary tale. It was the hero conductor who made the difference of life and death for the girl.