3,770 minors kidnapped in Delhi, number of those traced higher: NCRB report
In August, police stations across the city received a notice from the police headquarters about a new scheme in the force that promised quick promotions to constables and head constables who find missing children. The initiative was aimed at reversing the trend of children going missing from the streets of the national capital every day.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s latest data for 2020, Delhi reported 3,770 minors (aged below 18) being kidnapped or abducted -- the highest across 19 metropolitan cities with a population of more than two million.
Bengaluru reported 654 such cases and Kolkata 266. The number of such cases in Mumbai and Chennai was 1,150 and 14 respectively, according to the NCRB report that was released on Tuesday.
To be sure, the NCRB has said that the comparison of crime rate of kidnapping or missing children among cities was not possible because there was no data available on the population of minors in the 19 cities that were analysed.
According to the age-wise break up of Delhi data, 69 cases involved children below the age of six. The number of cases registered in the age bracket of 6-12 and 12-16 stood at 368 and 1,929 respectively. Around 1,404 cases involved minors in the age group of 16-18 years. Gender-wise, most victims were girls. A total of 2,749 girls were kidnapped and 1,021 victims were boys, according to the data.
According to Delhi Police data, between January 1 and December 31, 2019, 5412 children were reported missing, of which 3336 were traced --a recovery rate of 61.64 %.
In 2020, at least 4297 children were reported missing, while 4052 were recovered – a recovery rate of 94.29 % and an improvement of 32.65 percentage points compared to 2019.
These cases included those in which kidnapping/abduction cases were registered and those in cases were not registered, but children were reported missing.
Delhi’s problem of children getting kidnapped and lured to other cities was best seen after a woman head constable Seema Dhaka, became the first cop to win an out of turn promotion for tracing 76 children. Dhaka had found “children missing in Delhi police records” to places in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. In one case, she had found a 15-year-old girl, who was kidnapped and forcibly married in Assam.
Explaining the reasons for the high number of cases increased Sanjay Gupta, director of NGO Chetna (childhood enhancement through training and action), said that the attention of authorities was directed towards covid-related concerns and compliance of norms due to which the number of cases could have possibly increased.
“Also, while it will be difficult to state the areas from where the children might have gone missing, in my estimation, a significant number of children often go missing from slum areas. In cities like Delhi, both parents are often working due to which they are unable to give significant time and attention to children,” Gupta said.
He said that the lack of resources among the economically weaker section of the society was also a factor due to which many times, they could not get their complaints registered timely. “People who are well-off are able to divert time and resources and exert pressure on the police. Whereas, when a poor family’s child goes missing, no one knows if the child will be traced or not,” said Gupta.
A senior crime branch officer, who asked not to be named, said, “Finding missing children is a priority with or without any incentive. We have what we call Operation Milaap, where we try to find missing children and connect them with their families. Our teams visit different shelter homes and find missing children. No one is neglected.”