The parents of seven-year-old Rehana, who was kidnapped on January 29 last year from the Mumbai Central rail overbridge, still hope and pray their child is safe and will return home one day.
Rehana is among the 922 minor girls who were kidnapped in Mumbai last year.
The latest crime statistics from the Mumbai police show there has been a drastic increase in minor girls being kidnapped — in 2014, 309 girls were kidnapped from the city.
Mumbai police spokesperson and deputy commissioner of police (detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni attributes the jump to the immediate registration of kidnapping cases, after a ruling by the Supreme Court asking the police to treat a missing juvenile case as kidnapping.
“Earlier, the police would register a non-cognisable (NC) complaint or a missing person’s complaint. The police deal with kidnapping cases more seriously and take more efforts to trace the children,” Kulkarni said.
Officers said the number of cases of girls under the age of 10 going missing is negligible and that most of the cases involve underage couples eloping.
Activists working to rescue children from harsh work environment, begging rackets and traffickers believe social aspects also contribute to the rise in kidnapping cases.
Farida Lambay of NGO Pratham said there are groups operating in Mumbai that identify vulnerable minors and after luring them away from their homes, employ them as domestic help in residential societies. There have also been incidents of children being stolen from Mumbai’s civic- and government-run hospitals.
“The reporting of more cases indicates people are more aware and are taking the problem seriously,” another activist said.
Police statistics revealed the detection rate of kidnapping case has improved from 50% in 2014 to 57% in 2015.