933 children go missing in Delhi in last seven months

933 children go missing in Delhi in last seven months

Activists demand systemic reforms

Activists have expressed concern over missing children in the capital, as Delhi has reported a total of 933 untraced children between January 1 and August 13 this year, according to the data provided by Delhi Police’s Zonal Integrated Police Network.

This indicates a sharp rise of 63 per cent in the number, as 573 untraced children were reported in 2011 in the capital.

Activists lament that after more than six decades of independence if this is the state of affairs in Delhi, it is difficult to anticipate the plight of children in other parts of the country. 

“The situation is even graver with approximately 500 girls constituting majority of missing children. With rampant mushrooming of placement agencies in metropolitan cities, these figures show a clear connect between the functioning of these agencies and large number young girls going missing in the city,” said Rakesh Senger of Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

He added that girls get kidnapped for lucrative job opportunities and are further trafficked to other states.

The data also highlights that North West Delhi has 38 children missing, the highest among other districts, as submitted by the Jahangirpuri Police Station. The situation is similar in the other districts, with places like Aman Vihar, Samai Pur Badli, Nabi Karim, Shahbad Dairy, Mandawali and Sangam Vihar reporting over 20 children missing in last seven months.

A national research done on ‘Missing Children of India’ by Bachpan Bachao Andolan last year highlighted that close to one lakh children go missing every year and the figure could be much higher as a large number of missing children remain unreported, making it more than approximately 164 children per day.

“Interestingly, 933 is a big number but not an accurate one as there is several institutions which are still not registered under the Juvenile Justice Act. Also, this prevents the police from registering exact number of children going missing everyday in the city,” said Bharti Ali, co-director of HAQ Centre for Child Rights.

Rights groups demand that every police station should have a Juvenile police officer and missing person’s desk dedicated towards tracing missing children.

“When a child goes missing just an entry is made into the general station diary at the police station instead of registering an FIR. The police department needs to give more importance to cases of missing children,” said Shireen Miller, director, advocacy and policy, Save the Children.

They also demanded for a special taskforce to look into such cases.

“The question we need to ask is - where are these children? Many of them are toiling away behind closed doors as child labourers which are a form of modern day slavery. Unless systemic reforms are implemented our children will continue to suffer,” added Miller.

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