18 children go missing in Delhi every day: report

It has been a year and four months since her 13-year-old daughter Rosie went missing from their home in North-West Delhi and even today when Nasima Khatun recounts the tale her eyes well up.

The girl was alone at home while her three siblings were at work and school that day, said Ms. Khatun, who was in her hometown in Bihar at that time. “We are quite certain that a neighbour, who has been missing since that day, is the one who took our daughter,” said Ms. Khatun.

What happened to Rosie and thousands of other minors has become a depressing statistic, one which was reinforced by a new report on missing children released on Wednesday.

On an average, 18 children go missing in the Capital every day and four of them are never traced, the report by the Alliance for People’s Rights found. A total of 6,494 children, 53 per cent of them girls, disappeared in Delhi from January 1 to December 31, 2013, the report said, citing Right to Information replies from the Delhi Police.

The report also found that the number of missing children has increased in the past year from 14 cases a day in 2012. In some districts the number has shot up, with a 54.82 per cent jump in cases reported in West and a 47.24 per cent increase in North-West districts.

Only two districts, North-East and New Delhi, saw a decline in the number of missing children in 2013 compared to 2012. The report stated “more than 50 per cent of them [rescued victims] are from the socially deprived sections of society”.

The convenor of the alliance, Reena Banerjee, said: “This is just the data we could get from the police through RTI, but there are many cases that never get registered. So the actual number of missing children may be higher.”

The parents of missing children allege that the authorities are not doing enough to bring them back and to prevent similar cases happening again. Ms. Khatun said: “We gave the police a photo of the accused and his number. But they didn’t do much. Now, we have filed a habeas corpus plea in the High Court, which has asked the police about what action they have taken so far.”

A “blame game” would not work and a holistic approach was the need of the hour, said Ms. Banerjee. The report and its recommendations will be shared with the Lieutenant-Governor, the High Court and the Centre so the problem of missing children can be addressed at different levels.

Soha Moitra, the regional director of Child Rights and You, said a single and transparent database should be kept. “Children’s commissions should be proactive,” she added.

Ms. Banerjee said: “If we can have bullet trains in the country, we can surely keep our children safe.”

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Printable version | Sep 29, 2021 2:41:55 AM |

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