38 children still missing in Noida
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38 children still missing in Noida

38 children, mostly girls, in the age group of 3-11 years have gone missing in the past one-and-a-half-years, according to villagers.

india Updated: Nov 24, 2006 10:44 IST

The safe recovery of the son of a top corporate executive does not bring a smile on the face of Sunita, who runs a small laundry in Nithari on the edge of New Delhi. She awaits the return of her 10-year-old daughter who was kidnapped 15 months ago.

Sunita is not the only parent angry with police inaction: 38 children, mostly girls, in the age group of 3-11 years have gone missing in the past one-and-a-half-years, according to villagers.

The situation in this overgrown village of 25,000 people shows no signs of improvement. Aarti, an eight-year-old daughter of Durga Prasad, a driver, was kidnapped a few weeks ago.

Kidnappings do not make news any more in much of the rural belt of Noida, adjoining New Delhi. Every month around two children are being abducted while playing outside their homes.

Most people in Nithari have migrated from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, earning their livelihood as domestic help, drivers and vendors of vegetables and fruits.

"Police only want money from us, we do not think they want to look for our children. They will work only for the rich and the influential who can speak to ministers and get their work done," said Sunita, tears rolling down her eyes as she remembered the last time she saw her daughter.

"We only get abused and beaten by the cops every time we go to enquire about our missing children. This has happened for the past 15 months and it will continue," she said while sitting in her makeshift laundry shop at the corner of the main road.

Furious at the inefficiency of the Noida police in tracing the kidnapped children, another resident of the village, Pappu Lal, said: "We fear that our daughters might have been forced into prostitution by the kidnappers. What else could be the reason for targeting girls?"

His daughter, Rachna Kumari, 8, went missing April 10 while playing outside her house.

"We have gone to far off places like Jaipur, Mumbai, Bharatpur, Ajmer, Lucknow, Varanasi and Allahabad in search of our children," Pappu Lal added.

Said Ram Kishan, a driver whose three-year-old boy Harsh Dhanuk was kidnapped in February: "We came all the way from Bihar to earn a living and not to lose our children.

"I know my child must be in trouble - he is too young to take care of himself. But I am helpless as I cannot do anything," said Kishan. "It is hard to even eat a meal when you are aware that your child might not have food."

The Noida police denied the villagers' claim that 38 children were missing.

"There are only 11 complaints of missing children and we have managed to find six of them. Only five children are missing now," said Rajesh Kumar Singh Rathore, a senior superintendent of police.

"We had formed a special investigation team to find these children. Our team is currently in Mumbai looking for them," said Rathore.

Responding to the allegation that police served only the high and mighty, he said: "This is completely baseless. We are diligently working to trace these children and we hope to find them. I am worried for the five missing girls because I fear they might have been forced into prostitution. We are sensitive enough to realise the plight of the parents."

First Published: Nov 24, 2006 09:10 IST