Bengaluru: A deeply disturbing fact about India’s missing children is that while on an average 174 children go missing every day, half of them remain untraced. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report which was cited by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the Parliament (LS Q no. 3928, 20-03-2018), more than one lakh children (1,11,569 in actual numbers) were reported to have gone missing till 2016, and 55,625 of them remained untraced till the end of the year.
The statistics are however, indicative of the absence of a national Missing Children’s repository. “There are no budgets earmarked for tracking missing people,” said an official source.
According to Chief Executive Officer, Child Rights and You (CRY) Puja Marwah there’s “evidences on ground and numbers that indicate a large number of missing children are actually trafficked, kidnapped or abducted,” she said. According to NCRB, cases of kidnapping and abduction (K&A) of children have gone up 250 per cent in the last five years. Kidnapping and abduction of children constitutes for 51 per cent of all crimes against children. Seventy per cent of K&A cases involve girl children, the NCRB states.
India is a signatory to the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which “recognizes the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.”
The truth behind missing children and childhood in India is buried in child trafficking, child sex tourism, pornography, child labour intensive industries such as bangle making, beedi rolling, brick kiln, which largely employs bonded child labour. “Quite a few children who go missing are found in private non government homes. They are used as fodder for generating foreign funds.
These homes are not linked to State agencies like the police, Department of Women & Child Development. Many children are also exploited as bonded labour in brick kiln industries and those that need dexterous hands. They are also victims of inter-state sex trafficking and beggary,” said former inspector general of police, Andhra Pradesh (undivided) S. Umapathi, who had done commendable work on anti human trafficking. In 2010 he was conferred with the ‘Anti human Trafficking Hero of the World’ award by the US State Department.