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Delhi’s missing kids: 18 children disappear every day from India’s capital

Eighteen children go missing in Delhi every day on average. Only a few are traced and restored to their parents. Shocked? Well, the national capital beats the national average easily when it comes to missing children. While 11 children disappear in the country every hour, two-third of them are traced. In Delhi, that’s not quite the case.

“My son was playing outside the entrance gate of our house. I went inside for a few minutes to bring money to pay a food vendor. When I returned, I did not find my child there. The vendor too had disappeared,” Laxmi, a resident of Sultanpuri told Firspost. More than a decade has elapsed since her son, less than two-years-old then, went missing. She has lost all hope of getting him back. The cops have given up too.

Protesting child trafficking. AFPMeena, a north Delhi slum resident, lost her 18-month-old daughter in September 2009. “I always carry her photograph in my purse. I hope I will find her someday. Sometimes policemen refuse to meet me,” said the helpless mother. She suspects her liquor-addict husband has sold their daughter to a prostitution network.

There are hundreds of mothers like Laxmi and Meena in the slum clusters of Delhi. According to police records most cases of missing children are reported from slum areas such as Sangam Vihar in South Delhi, Sultanpuri in Outer Delhi and Jahangirpuri in northwest Delhi.

Despite several legislations, the police in the national capital and across the country appear to have failed to control trafficking and abduction of children. If data provided by Bachpan Bachao Abhiyan, an NGO campaigning for an end to child labour and child trafficking, is something to go by, the number of missing children in the country almost doubled in 2013 as against 2012.

According to its numbers, a total of 4,913 children (2,352 boys and 2,561 girls) went missing in 2012 out of which 2,541 children (1,226 boys and 1,315) were traced and the rest 2,372 children (1,126 boys and 1,246 girls) were left untraced. The figure witnessed a sharp rise to 7,451 (3,286 boys and 4,165 girls) in 2013. Out of the total who disappeared that year, 4,209 kids (1,908 boys and 2,301 girls) were traced but the whereabouts of the rest 3,242 children (1,378 boys and 1,864 girls) are still unknown. A whopping 72.8 percent of missing children are the age group 12-18 while 20.45 percent are in the 7-12 age group.

Where do they go?

“Trafficking is one of the biggest trade of the world today after drug peddling and sale of arms. The children are being taken by the agents for forced labour, prostitution, sale of organs and illegal adoption. The government has failed to control trafficking and kidnapping of children inspite the fact that several legislations have been framed to prevent it and deployment of staff has been made,” RS Chaurasia, chairperson of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, told Firstpost.

Apart from looking into amendments in criminal law related to sexual assault, the Justice Verma Committee, which was formed in the wake of the brutal Delhi gangrape and massive outpouring of public anger, also highlighted the issue of missing children.

“A lakh kids go missing every year. The police must file an FIR, DM should maintain records,” Justice JS Verma had said in the report. Most missing children are victims of human trafficking and sexual violence, often with police connivance, the Verma commission had observed, citing the case of a minor girl who was trafficked from Jharkhand to Delhi, made to work for a year without pay and then trafficked again to Punjab.

The girl was rescued by an NGO but there are many who have to suffer worse. Some end up in brothels from where chances of escape are close to impossible.

The Delhi Police have a different view on the matter though. “In most of the cases, children run away willingly. The allegations of child trafficking and sexual abuse are rarely found to be true in our investigations,” says Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat.

But that does not quite explain the large number of untraced children. There have to be ways to address the problem. “Lapse of time, ineffective tracking system and insufficient information database minimise the missing children’s chances of ever coming back home,” believes Soha Moitra of the Child Rights and You (CRY).

“Numbers related to missing children, sexual abuse and other child protection indicators are increasing every year in Delhi. The need of the hour is to work towards a ensuring an environment where children get top priority in terms of policies, schemes and budget allocations so that protection of children becomes the agenda of all stakeholders in the society,” she adds.

Reena Banerjee, convenor of Alliance for People’s Rights (APR), says collaboration between states and the police is integral to limiting the growing number of child protection issues in the city. “Steps should be taken to map vulnerabilities of children and available initiatives/resources. Our system currently lacks cross-departmental linkages to ensure protection of children,” she complains.

SourceDelhi’s missing kids: 18 children disappear every day from India’s capital – Tarique Anwar, FirstPost

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