36 kids who went missing from Ghaziabad this year remain untraced
A total of 312 people, including 81 minors, went missing from the district in between January and November this yearnoida Updated: Dec 15, 2017 23:23 IST
Families of 36 minors, who went missing in 2017, are still waiting for their children to return, shows official data released by the Ghaziabad police. A total of 81 minors went missing from the district between January and November this year; the police could reunite only 45 children with their families.
The issue of finding missing children was taken up on war footing by the district police under Operation Smile, initiated in November 2014, to trace and recover missing children. In the first two months of the operation, teams from the Ghaziabad police travelled the length and breadth of the country to trace missing children and reunited 227 minors with their families. The feat won Ghaziabad police laurels from the Union home ministry, which directed all states and Union Territories to take similar initiatives. Over the years, however, it seems Operation Smile may have lost some of its steam.
Tarun Gupta, caretaker of Prerna Sewa Sansthan, a shelter home for children in Ghaziabad, said, “It seems the police does not want to trace missing children anymore. They show reluctance in lodging FIRs and insist that people register e-FIRs; it becomes difficult for a poor person to lodge FIRs online. The intent with which they started Operation Smile seems to have becomes lost.”
Prerna Sewa Sansthan currently takes care of 30 children in the age group of three months to 11 years who went missing and are waiting to be reunited with their families.
Member of child welfare committee Shalini Singh said that since the police are the first responders, they need to take more initiative. “In many cases, it is seen that they don’t lodge FIRs and even the online data of missing persons remains incomplete. There has to be more awareness (among the public) about missing children and, most importantly, police need to take this initiative,” she said.
The district police, however, differs on its response towards the plight of missing children.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP) HN Singh said they regularly conduct drives in which police teams investigate reports of children who have gone missing from the district and they are sent to different parts of the country to find them. “We have lodged FIRs in all cases of missing persons and children that were reported,” he said.
Singh added that side by side, the police are also conducting a drive on the lines of Operation Smile. “Under the drive, we have focused on child workers who are employed at roadside dhabas, etc. In one such instance, we recovered nearly 70 children from Loni alone and they were sent back home,” Singh said.
According to the claims made by the police, 312 persons, including minors and those over 18 years, went missing from January to November this year and 220 of them were either traced or returned on their own.
“I am also monitoring the issue of missing children on daily basis,” said the SSP.