Where are the missing children?

Lata Jain

Are you a parent? Is your child going to school? Is he going for shopping with his father? Is she going to her friend’s house? Then hug your child before he/she leaves. Hold and hug your child before reading further.

According to the latest statistics by National crime Record Bureau a total number of 10,690 and 14,144 children were reported missing in 2013 and 2014 respectively where as 3842 and 2469 children were rescued under Human trafficking act during the same period according to a written reply in the Lok Sabha given by Women and child Development ministry.

Do we find our missing children? Where do they go?

Have you lost your child? You will have a painful and horrific experience having lost your child. An, epidemic that gets but a passing mention in the newspapers, an epidemic that is real and tangible only for those parents who wait for the call that never comes, the child who never returns. You do the rounds of various police stations, officials, politicians who flow crocodile tears to your pain Photographs in hand, you  put out advertisements in the newspapers, describing what their child was wearing when he or she went missing, who live a life in limbo. Our children are going missing. 24,834 children went missing in the past two years.  Several new born babies have gone missing from hospitals.

lata jain

Lata Jain

In Hyderabad the day-old boy was stolen during visiting hours when his mother, Subbamma (26). She had left the baby unattended in the ward and had gone to the toilet when someone took him away, adding the hospital, run by a private trust, didn’t have CCTV cameras.”

However, according to a report by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), nearly 11 children go missing every hour, and at least, 4 of them are never found. According to BBA, the number of missing children could be as high as 90,000 per year. West Bengal topped the charts of missing children with 12,000 children missing in 2011. These are merely reported cases that discount those children who might run away due to various factors, ranging from abuse to dysfunctional homes, and exam stress, or some who might get lost while families travel. Majority of the missing children are just taken away.

Why are these innocent children kidnapped and victimized? Children are kidnapped for human trafficking, illegal organ transplantation, prostitution, child porn racketing, child labor in factories and unpaid domestic help. Many children are forced to beg; some are mutilated to evoke sympathy for more earning potential, and a small percentage for ransom. Kidnappings for ransom are on the rise, and in some cases even after paying up, the parents never see their children again.

Recently an 11 year old boy who asked for a lift on his way from school was kidnapped. The child belonging to one of the Kendriya Vidyalaya schools requested for a lift home. The kidnapper instead of dropping him home took him to a secluded place and demanded ransom from his parents.

Why are the police unable to track the children?

It starts with how the investigation is done. Very often, First Information Reports are not registered; just a General dairy entry is made into a list of missing persons at the local station and a photograph of missing child sent across the city stations if the parent puts political pressure or the case is reported in the media. Cases are only investigated if the person reporting the missing child files a case of kidnapping and pressure is mounted on the police.

The ministry set up portals like “track child and “khoya paya”under its sponsored integrated child protection scheme to track missing and lost child, says union minister for child welfare, Maneka Gandhi.

One of the NGOs “Bring back the lost” is doing a great job in finding the missing children. Through social media they are bringing awareness and also helping parents of lost children through the vast network of their website. According to Vaibhav Agarwal, entrepreneur and the face find the online forum, a lot of my work concerns social media and efforts are being made to put the maximum effort of the child on the website.

Now the government has instructed all police stations and women and child welfare centre’s to work on their project “operation muskan “to retrieve children from forced labor and missing children. The child is rescued but the place where the child is kept, the state home for children is in a bad state. Moreover the process of handling these children is not very healthy and it takes more than four months for the children to meet their parents.

 Parents have to wait endlessly. Anxious eyes with fear in their eyes hunt for their child, who have already become statistics in the long lists, these measures might not be of any help. But we can, and we must push for more attention to the growing menace; we cannot let this get brushed under the carpet.

We can’t let people rob our children and innocence and kidnap these little children, never to return.

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