There can be very little that is more horrifying for parents than to live with the knowledge that they may never see their child again. In the case of the father from Andhra Pradesh, news that his little girl had been murdered by her kidnappers proved fatal. He succumbed to a heart attack. According to official estimates, over 44,000 children go missing every year, many of them kidnapped. One in four is untraced. Many recoveries are due to the efforts of parents or relatives coming to independent deals with the abductors than the efforts of the police.
The reason that kidnapping, especially that of children, has become a flourishing industry is that the criminals who are involved are certain that they can get away with it, thanks to indifferent and sloppy policing. When so many children went missing in the notorious Nithari case, all the parents reported the utter apathy of the police. This meant a loss of a great deal of crucial time before even desultory efforts were made to look for those missing. This is also probably because, in states like Bihar and UP, kidnappings by organised gangs have some degree of political patronage. That the police have no well-defined drill to deal with kidnappings was brought out in stark detail when the police actually kidnapped a kidnapper’s young child and wife recently and held them as leverage to secure the release of two children.
Surely, the law cannot descend to the level of criminals in its methods, howsoever justified the need to save the kidnapped children was. The fact that the kidnapping spree across the country continues with such impunity led the Supreme Court to recently award the death penalty to two men who kidnapped and murdered a schoolboy. In a moving judgement, the apex court ruled that death could be given based on circumstantial evidence. It is probably the circumstantial evidence clause that will also ensure that culprits get away with their crimes, given the notorious inability of the police to get their forensics right. Yet, we cannot believe that it is only the ineptitude of the police that makes them so laggardly. In high-profile cases, and under intense media pressure, they have been known to act with alacrity. But this does not happen too often in the case of those with no connections like in the Nithari case. The police must at least keep computerised files of missing persons and not close cases as easily as they do. For those whose loved ones have gone missing, the case is never closed. They live all their lives in uncertainty and pain.