As police unearthed skeletons of several children from an area on the outskirts of New Delhi, data available with the home ministry reveals that crime against kids is on an alarming upward curve.
According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), India reported 14,975 criminal cases against children in 2005 as against 14,423 in 2004 - a 3.8 per cent increase nationally.
A total of 1,327 cases of murder of children were reported in 2005, up from 1,304 in 2004 - an increase of 1.8 per cent. Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number (390), accounting for 29.4 per cent of the total cases.
Similarly, 4,026 cases of child rape were reported during 2005 as compared to 3,542 in 2004, accounting for a significant increase of 13.7 per cent during the year, the NCRB report said.
Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of rapes (870) followed by Maharashtra (634). These two states taken together accounted for 37.3 per cent of the total child rape cases.
Delhi is not far behind.
NCRB found that 301 children up to 15 years of age were kidnapped in the capital in 2005.
The total kidnappings in India were 2,571 children for 2003, 3,196 in 2004 and 3,518 in 2005.
Aroona Broota, a leading psychologist here, said: "Sexual passion and materialistic desire are driving people in urban cities, and when they fail to achieve the desired object a number of them resort to crime.
"It's a result of utter frustration. Here children become easy targets because they can be easily overpowered either for money or sexual satisfaction. So a lot of children in cities are kidnapped for ransom or sexually assaulted.
"As children are a vulnerable section of our society the number of cases against them is growing. What we need to do is identify our weak points and address them through a quick legal procedure."
On Friday, skeletons of several children kept in bags were found near a water tank in the Nithari village in Noida on New Delhi's outskirts. A total of 38 children, most of them minor girls, had gone missing in the area for the last two years.
Police have arrested Surendra Kohli alias Satish, who is believed to be mentally ill, on charges of murdering the children after sexually assaulting them. Satish, a resident of Almora in Uttaranchal, was working as a domestic help in a businessman's house.
"The skeletons were found buried in a two-and a-half-feet deep ditch behind the house of the businessman," said Jagmohan Yadav, the inspector general of police (IGP) Meerut Range.
"He (Satish) does not seem to be a normal person. Psychopaths like him commit regular offence without any remorse," said Sameer Parekh, a noted psychiatrist.