From the worrying figure of two children per day to the more shocking one of at least four - the capital has witnessed a huge increase in the number of children reported missing this year.
According to Delhi Police records, 407 children, aged up to 16 years, had disappeared between January 1 and June 18 in 2011.This year, 788 went missing during the same period - an alarming increase of more than 93%.
"This is beyond a sociological phenomenon," said Rakesh Senger, national secretary of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), an NGO that works for child rights. "These figures could mean the existence of another, though more brutal, episode such as Noida's Nithari."
"Children from less-privileged socio-economic backgrounds are falling prey to everything from sexual abuse at the hands of paedophile men afraid of contracting HIV to being used by criminal gangs who want to misuse their juvenile status," said Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research (CSR).
The highest number of children who have gone missing, 128, was reported from southeast Delhi where, according to Senger, only two to three have returned after months of absence. One of these children who returned home after a gap of more than six months, Senger said, claimed to have escaped from a circus where he had been lured by a tout.
Equally notorious in this respect, according to the police statistics, are northwest and outer Delhi districts - both of which reported 112 cases each of missing children.
Coupled with southeast Delhi, the three districts, which mostly consists of illegal colonies and settlements, account for 352 of the 'extra' 381 children who have gone missing till June 18.
"Even after the creation of the Delhi Police's anti-human trafficking units (AHTUs), which were supposed to look into cases of child trafficking, not a single thing has changed. Instead of following the trafficking trail to get to the ring leaders of the racket, they'd rather just finish their paper work and close the file for good," Senger said.
When confronted with allegations of inaction, the police chose to remain evasive and claimed they were doing 'all they can' to track missing children.
"Investigations into such cases are conducted as per the SoP and, as such, no organised racket indulging in human trafficking has come to light so far," a senior police officer said.