T.N. Police launch drive to trace missing children

S. Vijay Kumar
T.N. Police launch drive to trace missing children

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Thursday, 8th June 2023
Page No. 6
Chennai Print Edition

The Tamil Nadu Police have launched a drive to trace children who have been reported missing from across the State over the past 10 years.

Director-General of Police (DGP) C. Sylendra Babu on Wednesday directed Commissioners/Superintendents of Police of all cities/districts to form special teams led by officers in the rank of Additional Superintendent of Police, Crime against Women & Children, to locate such children.

Track and trace

“All Station House Officers of the police stations and Inspectors of All Women Police Stations should make special efforts to track and trace the missing children and reunite them with their parents,” he said.

Services of the Social Welfare Department and Child Welfare Committees could be sought in making ‘Operation Missing Children’ a success, the DGP said, adding that the rescued children should be reported in 24 hours and a consolidated report should be sent to the police headquarters on June 12, 2023.

According to police sources, a total of 2,280 children, including 1,533 girls, have been reported missing since 2013 and are yet to be traced. Of the 46,255 children reported missing since 2013, 42,989 were traced and reunited with their parents or guardians. The maximum number of children reported missing was in 2022 (6,648), followed by 2021 (6,143), the sources added.

Chennai topped the list with 7,300 cases of missing children, of whom 420 could not be traced so far.

Vellore stood second with 2,261 cases and Madurai third with 1,734, of which 50 and 100 cases respectively remain unsolved.

“Since children have little access to gadgets or internet-enabled services that can help in tracking their digital footprints, we rely more on conventional methods of investigation. The problem gets challenging when the missing children leave Tamil Nadu or are taken away forcibly. Many may not have a contact number to call,” a senior police official said.

Unreported cases

Former DGP M. Ravi, who had a stint as Chief of the Crime against Women and Children Wing, said that on an average, 200 children are found missing every year.

“These are the reported cases. There are unreported cases in equal number where the parents abandon [their children] due to poverty or when traffickers lure the parents with money.” Moreover, Dr. Ravi said, police would also be unable to trace the missing children due to factors such as lack of sufficient description, photos and identification. “Unless the complainants follow up closely with the police station, it is not a priority for the police. Practically, it is difficult to trace the trafficked children unless organised trafficking comes under police scanner.”

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