Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked the Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) to prepare a note on how the government can deal with the problem of missing children in the city.
The CM’s direction comes following reports in Hindustan Times on May 19 and 20 that detailed the scale and magnitude of the problem. As per statistics, 22,000 children went missing from Delhi in the past three years.
A DDC official said the plan would be submitted to the CM next week. “As per the initial discussion, we want to create a single point of contact for the parents of missing children. We will set up a control room and a helpline, where parents can call to register their complaints. First, we will identify areas, where children are targeted the most. We will then ask the police for the data,” said an official.
Since the police are not under the government, the CM wants to focus on preventing children from being targeted. “We are also planning to install electronic billboards at bus stops and railways stations with details of the missing children. Those who travel regularly to other states can inform the government if they spot a missing child,” the official said.
Sources said the CM was shocked by HT report that says in the past three years, more than 22,000 children went missing in Delhi. At least 9,000 are yet to be traced.
Every year more than 7,000 children go missing and 1,500 of them remain untraced in Delhi, the second highest in the country after Maharashtra. Many of them are never found.
Activists say most of the missing children are trafficked by organised gangs that push them into a life of bonded labour in big cities or in the Middle East. Girls are mostly forced into prostitution, many of them sent to villages with poor sex ratio and married to men twice their age.
Government is also taking the help of NGOs and will form a group of 500 parents to follow their cases regularly. According to Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO, Delhi is fast emerging as the hub of children trafficking. Gangs mostly target children from lower income groups as both parents go out for work, leaving the minors vulnerable.
An analysis by NGO Child Rights and You (Cry) revealed that 22 children went missing everyday in the capital in 2015, up from the daily figure of 18, the year before.
Government is also planning to open day care centre in the areas where parents have to leave their children at home to earn a livelihood. “Children shouldn’t be left alone,” the official said.
Outer Delhi is the most unsafe for children. As many as 50% of those missing in 2015 had not been traced, showed the report.
The data showed that in the 0-12 age group those missing were mostly boys and in the 12-18 age group, mostly girls.
Most cases of untraced girls were from west Delhi, showed data.