Other States

West Bengal has most cases of missing children

Data released by the Home Ministry show that the State reported over 14,600 such incidents in 2014.

Rekha Munda (14) (name changed) was rescued from Faridabad in Haryana in April last year. A resident of Banarhat in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, Rekha was lured by a youth with the promise of marriage. But through a network of touts, she landed up as a domestic help in Haryana. She was denied food, restricted from venturing out of the house and even physically tortured. Eventually, Rekha managed to call her brother, which led to her rescue.

Not a week goes by without police teams from West Bengal making trips to Delhi and adjoining areas to recover missing children. Data recently released by the Ministry of Home Affairs in response to questions in Lok Sabha earlier this month shows that West Bengal reported 14,671 cases of missing children in 2014, which is 21 per cent of the total such cases registered in the country. Experts say many of the missing girls are forced into sex trade.

Promise of marriage

While several girls from south Bengal are lured by organised gangs with the promise of marriage and then sold to red-light areas in different parts of the country, minor girls from tribal areas land up as domestic helps.

West Bengal is followed by Maharashtra, where 13,090 cases of missing children were recorded in the same period. About 70 per cent of the children who had gone missing from Bengal in 2014 are girls.

Atindra Nath Das, Regional Director, Child Rights and You (CRY), East, said on Thursday on the occasion of International Missing Children’s day: “Going by the current trend reflected in the government data, West Bengal, along with some other States, continue to show worrying trends in cases related to missing children.”

“There is a close link between missing children and organised crime,” Mr. Das said.

East, the trafficking hub

Experts from CRY pointed out that data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) also shows that almost 75 per cent of the cases related to minor girls are concentrated in just four States in the east and north-east of the country, making West Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Odisha a hub of child-trafficking.

Highlighting that 6,687 of the 14,671 missing children recorded in 2014 were traced by government agencies, Rishi Kanta of Shakti Vahini, an organisation working to combat trafficking, said the data also reflected co-ordination between law enforcement agencies in combating inter-State human-trafficking.

Mr. Kanta said trafficking remains a concern for States such as West Bengal where registration of an FIR after a child goes missing has also been taken up seriously.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 9:42:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bengal-has-highest-number-of-missing-children-cases/article8646208.ece

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