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55,470 children missing since 2009

MISSING CHILDREN HARYANA

ADITI TANDON IN THE TRIBUNE

In Punjab, 544 of the 599 who went missing in 3 yrs never found

New Delhi, May 15

The last time we seriously thought about our children was when their mortal remains were painstakingly dug out over days from the drain adjoining D-5 in Noida’s Nithari village. Not much seems to have changed since then except that the public attention from a glaring issue has shifted. That explains why a shocking piece of information the Home Ministry submitted to the Parliament last week went unnoticed as issues involving corruption and cartoons of politicians in the NCERT textbooks took precedence.

The Tribune analysed the data which reveals alarming trends and serves as a wake up call for everyone engaged in child protection. On an average, 162 children go missing in India every day and one in every three child, who gets lost, is never traced by the official machinery. The Home Ministry’s latest statistics on missing children show that between 2009 and 2011, 1,77,660 children went missing from the country. Of these, 55,470 (31.2 per cent) are still listed

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in the Government data sheets as “untraced”. Of those still missing nationally, 60 per cent (35,605) are girls and the rest (19,855) are boys.

This trend (of more girls going missing than boys) is true of entire India except six northern states — Haryana, Punjab, J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Chandigarh — where 60 per cent of untraced kids are boys indicating possibilities of human organ trade gangs operating. There are 1,727 boys as against 1,193 girls in the missing children’s list. This is a rare departure from the national trend. “It is indicative of potential human organ trade and trafficking. Gurgaon and Faridabad have reported kidney transplant rackets in recent past. They are emerging as huge human trafficking hubs,” Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, a child protection organisation helping Government’s anti-trafficking units says. West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi together accounted for over half of India’s missing children over the past three years.

In 2009, out of 68,227 children reported missing, 13,099 vanished from Maharashtra; 11,527 from Bengal, 9,498 from Madhya Pradesh and 5,946 from Delhi. More worrisome is the growing number of missing children. The numbers have risen from 68,227 in 2009 (18,166 of them still untraced) to 77,091 in 2010 (23,209 never found). The Government data shows only 32,342 children missing in 2011. But a closer look at the statistics reveals that this mighty drop is on account of 15 states, including the high-burden Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, J&K and Rajasthan not submitting any data on missing children in 2011. Even of these, the police was unable to recover 14,000 kids.

The percentage of untraced children in Punjab, Haryana, J&K, Uttarakhand, Himachal and Chandigarh is 45 – much more than the national average of 31 per cent. These revelations come close on the heels of February 8, 2012 advisory on missing kids which the Home Ministry issued to states. The advisory which B Bhamati, Additional Secretary, Home, shared with the reporters in the wake of brutal torture of Baby Falak, is yet to bear fruit.

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