Vasant Dhoble, assistant commissioner of police (ACP), missing persons bureau spoke to HT.
What are the most common reasons for the disappearance of children and adults?
They are many. Every case is unique. A study is presently underway to identify the common factors. It has been observed that in a majority of cases, people, both children and adults, flee home on account of family problems.
What is the percentage of children kidnapped for ransom or by traffickers to be forced into begging or the flesh trade?
In so far as cases of kidnapping or trafficking in Mumbai are concerned, they are not more than 1% of the total missing cases. A major hurdle in finding such cases is the fact that families seldom disclose the truth once the children return home or are rescued. While the number of cases has remained constant, trafficking of minors still remains a major problem in rural areas, where children are gullible, compared to those in cities like Mumbai.
Where do people usually land up after running away from home?
The first stop is usually a friend or distant relative’s place. After some days, they run away again, and start doing odd jobs to support themselves. In many cases, they tend to come back home after going through hardships.
Does the police provide counselling to people on their return?
It depends on the willingness of their families. In cases of children, if they are referred to us by their families, we send them to the child welfare committee (CWC), which has professional counsellors. However, it has been observed that families feel content after the child returns.
What is the average percentage of people returning after they go missing?
It is a little over 90%, both in cases of children and adults.
What has been the rate of success in the drive the police initiated in November last year to trace missing people?
We have been able to trace more than 65% of the cases that were reported when we started the drive. The figure may go up, when we take an update from police stations at the end of this month.
How is the new drive different from the previous ones conducted by the police?
We are not only depending on field intelligence, but getting cooperation from members of the public over social media. This is making our task easy as well as effective.