Missing minors in MP: Thousands untraced
Sahar, 13, had left home in the morning to go to the school but didn't return.
For years, it became a routine for her parents to get copies of her photographs printed and distributed by visiting cities and towns across the state, but she couldn't be traced.
Innumerable families in the state share the same pain--their kids were either abducted, lured with false promises and taken away or went missing in mysterious circumstances, never to be traced again.
With Supreme Court this week directing the states to file the response on a PIL about failure to trace missing children, the extent of the problem has come to the fore.
The NGO, which has filed this public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court, has stated that maximum instances of missing children are in Maharashtra followed by West Bengal, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.
The Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) has said that 12,777 children have been missing from Madhya Pradesh.
Police officials admit that there is a huge problem but they say that this is the figure of missing children and this doesn't include the number that has been traced.
They claim that MP has a good record in recovering the missing children, though the number of untraced minors is no less either.
As per figures obtained from MP police, between 2006 and 2011, as many as 53,601 minors went missing.
However, 45,939 were traced. Still, among them 7,662 are missing.
Additional director general (ADG) Aruna Mohan Rao said that efforts are on to tackle this serious problem.
"We are recovering a large number of missing children but still a lot needs to be done in this regard", she says.
Rao, who heads the Cell against Human Trafficking, said that in every police station there is a dedicated police official for juveniles and in districts the CID keeps an eye on child traffickers.
Police sources said that there are organised gangs that look for trafficking of children, especially minor girls.
Many of the girls are thrown into prostitution and are sold off in faraway places.
Remaining are made to beg or forced to work in poor conditions in distant places.
"In the year 2008, a woman was arrested who was involved in abducting over half-a-dozen girls from a locality", said a policeman.
"Had her network been investigated properly, the entire racket could have been cracked," he says on condition of anonymity.
Police officials say that this problem has several aspects. While at police stations, there isn't enough staff and the focus is more on crimes rather than working every case of missing kid.
As a result, these cases are not often taken on priority.
Besides, in many cases, kids return and families don't inform the police when the child is back, which inflates the figure.
Despite efforts to sensitise policemen, there are several issues.
When a teenaged girl goes missing, policemen often consider it a case of elopement, rather, than exploring possibility of abduction or human trafficking.