Delhi is dangerous – not only for a woman returning alone from a night shift, as the euphemism goes – but more so for children. As many as 14 kids go missing in the Capital daily, which is an alarming eight per cent of the national total for such cases. Released for the first time and disclosed in Parliament, the Union Home Ministry‘s data says 5,111 children disappeared in the city last year. There’s no end to the disappearing acts as 1,146 children have already gone missing till April 15 this year.
It’s another first that the government’s figures are three times higher than the 1,575 missing children for 2011 that the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO, claimed earlier this month. It’s not hard to gauge the gravity of the situation because the ministry’s figures make another horrifying revelation – there is no trace of 1,359 of the 5,111 missing children in 2011.
Given the ghosts of Nithari still lurking in its backyard, there were fears of another incident of similar sadistic killings when the residents of Delhi’s Madanpur Khadar complained that 33 children from their area have gone missing over the past year. Detectives haven’t, however, found any evidence to link the Madanpur Khadar incidents with a Nithari-type situation.
The ministry has asked the police commissioners in metro cities to personally review every case of a missing child and take stringent action. “It requires concerted attention of the central and state governments. As missing children are exposed to high-risk situations, they are vulnerable and fall prey to exploitation, abuse and human trafficking,” B. Bhamathi, additional secretary in the ministry, wrote in his letter to the chief secretaries and state DGPs.
Giving a 34-point advisory on how to handle such cases, the letter added: “When any heinous or organised crime relating to missing children is reported, the probe should be taken over by the state CID.” Ravi Kant, the president of Shakti Vahini, a child rights NGO, said “Now that the police are registering more number of cases
and the government is compiling the numbers we’re seeing the swell in the figures. But the actual number is much, much higher and a lot more needs to be done.” Slamming the Delhi Police, Rakesh Senger, national secretary of Bachpan Bachao Andolan said: “Despite the disappearance of so many children from the city in the last four months, we’ve not heard of a single children abduction gang being busted. This is sheer laxity on part of the police.”