There is a huge discrepancy in the number of missing children in the country as sourced from police records and that obtained through RTI applications, an NGO said Friday, adding that it was among the many challenges in their recovery.
“According to the Zonal Integrated Police Network, the number of missing children from 10 districts of Delhi (between Jan 1-April 20, 2011) was 468. However, numbers extracted through RTIs from just eight districts stands at 1,260,” a statement by child rights organisation CRY said.
At a conference here, Yogita Verma of CRY said: “If we want our children to be safe, the need of the hour is a common and up-to-date case recording and tracking system that helps in finding children even in other states without a lapse in time.”
While official figures show that 8,945 children are abducted annually in India, the civil society puts the number at much higher.
The conference, which also saw testimonies by people whose children are missing, highlighted the fact that in a number of cases, the police refuse to register a case.
Rukmini Devi, whose four-year-old son went missing from their village in Agra district in 2007, said: “My child went missing on Jan 27, 2007. He was playing outside and the next moment he was not there”.
“We went to lodge a complaint with the police, but they refused to register our complaint. Our village elders said that we will block the road if the FIR (first information report) is not registered and we did that – only after that did the police register an FIR and said that our child will be found in three days,” she added.
“It’s been more than four years now, and my child is still not back,” Devi said in a choked voice.Amod Kanth of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) said that a major challenge is that child trafficking is not even considered a crime in India.
“In about 70-80 percent cases, missing children are trafficked for labour. However, child labour is not even mentioned in the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act. This is a big loophole,” Kanth said.
CRY also said that in places like Uttar Pradesh, there is yet another challenge — not registering cases of missing girl children.”There are a number of instances of parents not registering cases of missing girls for fear of social stigma,” the statement said.