More than 2,100 children have gone missing in the national capital till April 15 this year, continuing the disturbing trend of 20 kids disappearing from the city everyday for the last few years.
Although police manage to trace more than half of these children every year, but a large number of them are never rescued. What is more alarming is the fact that most of these children are girls, raising concerns that they might be forced into prostitution.
According to Delhi Police data, 2,168 children have been reported missing in the city till April 15 this year, of which 1,212 were girls and 956 boys. Although 1,202 children were rescued, 586 girls and 380 boys are yet to be found.
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Last year, 7,572 children went missing from Delhi out of which 4,166 were girls and 3,406 boys. Although police brought back 5,695 children to their homes, 1,877 kids including 1,199 girls were yet to be traced. In 2013, 5,809 children went missing, of which 1,025 were yet to be traced while 3,686 had gone missing the previous year.
“Fear of studies, peer pressure, family dispute, elopement, scolding by parents were some of the reasons why children flee their homes on their own while organised gangs are involved in cases of kidnapping and sex trafficking,” said a senior police official.
Delhi Police have launched several initiatives to curb this trend which include project “SNEH” under which Juvenile Welfare Officers of police stations work in close coordination with NGOs and undertake awareness programmes.
Anti-Human Trafficking Units have been formed in each districts and in the Crime Branch and has formulated Standard Operating Procedure in case of missing children which mandates prompt registration of FIR.
As it emerged that children from poor families living in unauthorised colonies and slum clusters are more vulnerable, police launched ‘Pehchaan’, under which kids are photographed and a copy of which is handed over to their parents.
“This has been done as it was observed in many cases that when children from families of poor financial background go missing, families were not even able to provide us with their pictures,” the official added.
Delhi Police have also launched ‘Operation Milap’, aimed at uniting missing children with their parents under which 89 kids have been restored with their families so far. Under the scheme which was launched in December last, Crime Branch officials check each and every child in the Children Homes and make all out efforts to get any clue about their parents/home so that they can be restored properly.