The missing three-year-old girl Jahnvi Ahuja, who disappeared from India Gate last week was found in West Delhi's Janakpuri on Sunday.
After she went missing, her family undertook a massive social media campaign and put out her photos on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp that read she was missing along with her father's name and contact number.
Tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi was among the Twitter celebs who retweeted details and helped the social media campaign aiming to locate her.
Had she gone missing over a decade back, her photos would have been spotted on poles and walls across the city with "missing" written on them along with her family's contact number.
Her photos would also have been splashed on news channels. Now, however, the family was equipped with an additional new tool, the social media, which has the power to spread information at the speed of wildfire.
The social media found a common cause in the family’s search and there are no limits to how far information can spread once this happens. Soon after Jahnvi’s family started the social media campaign, everybody was retweeting and sharing on Facebook the details of the child.
Now, it is emerging that the kidnappers may have been frightened by the media coverage that took off from the social media campaign.
Undeniably, social media has an extremely wide reach. It helps convey messages instantly and free of cost. It is also an effective tool for people who feel they have nowhere else to go.
"Social media has taken a big leap from a time when everyone was skeptical of how it could be, to now, when it has become a power centre for social change. How people came together for Jahnvi is a clear case of what happens when social media is used for social good, and we should encourage it,” says Anshul Tewari, founder and editor-in-chief of website Youth Ki Awaaz.
Mahesh Murthy, marketer, investor and founder of Digital Brand Strategy firm Pinstorm, offers another insight into the empowering effect of social media.
“India has a longer history than many people think of using social media to help citizens. The first effort started on Twitter with the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, when there were just a few hundred thousand people on the network. Today, the lay citizen is both aware of the power of social media as well as the potential. After the successful use of social media in the elections, now even kidnappers think a few times before taking on the might and wrath of the 125 million strong social-media-enabled Indian public.”
Before Jahnvi was found, Delhi police commissioner BS Bassi had announced a Rs 50,000 reward for anyone with information about the child.
The police traced Jhanvi after a passerby saw her at the D Block market in Janakpuri and informed them. Her head had been shaved in an attempt to hide her identity.
The Indian Express
, “The caller reportedly said the girl had a placard around her neck with her name, her father’s number and the fact that she had gone missing from India Gate written on it by hand.”
She was taken to the Mayapuri police station where her family identified her. Jhanvi went home with her mother soon after.
The police suspect she was kidnapped by an organised syndicate of child traffickers, but revealed little.
Jhanvi and her family had gone to India Gate around 9pm on September 28. She was playing with other children on the lawns, while her family sat a short distance away.
Her father discovered she was missing at around 9:30pm and called the police at 11:30pm after searching for her in vain. CCTV footage last saw her playing alone around 9:21pm.