Please spare a minute to save innocent Children from pain of kidnapping & induced begging

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Why raising issue:

The plight of missing children as well as their parents cannot be described in words. Mere thought of the child going missing is scary when you have felt the pain when your little sweetheart gets a little hurt while playing in front of your eyes. The mere sight of a child of tender age carrying a younger child in her lap and begging outside the temple or knocking at your car window with deadpan face pinches in some deep corner of heart and it is more than sufficient reason to seek your kind support.


Alarming situation from the prospective of official data:

According to data released by Ministry of Home Affairs in the past, the total number of untraced children in 2015 was 62,988 as against 34,244 in the year 2013 indicating an alarming increase of 84% between 2013 and 2015.

According to available official data, over 3.25 lakh children went missing between 2011 and 2014 (till June) which puts up to an average of nearly 1 lakh children going missing every year. The gravity of the situation is truly reflected when we compare these figures with that of our comparatively disturbed neighbour Pakistan where according to official figures around 3,000 children go missing every year. On population front, we can refer China, where official figures give the number of missing children at around 10,000 every year. Further, if we include unreported cases of missing children, the figures will be alarmingly high.

National Crime Records Bureau, in fact, gives missing children figures in India in terms of one child going missing in the country every eight minutes. More worryingly, 55% per cent of those missing are girls and 45% of all missing children have remained untraceable as yet raising fears of them having been either killed or pushed into begging or prostitution rackets. Experts say several children from rural India and among the urban poor run out of home due to poverty or physical abuse. Once on the street, without protection, they could be pushed into any racket or abused.


Our moral obligations:

               In such circumstances, it is our moral obligation to contribute to the improvement in the well being of children in difficult circumstances, as well as to the reduction of vulnerabilities to situations and actions that lead to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation of children.

There are various initiatives by Government as well as NGOs, but the gravity of situation demands and deserves more. In the law and order machinery, there is insufficient focus on tracing of missing children. In fact, in the states with a missing persons' bureau in their police department, good officers are seldom posted as it's not considered a coveted division.


Solutions to ponder upon:

When we are to take a serious note of the things happening around us and to seek logical and effective solutions for the same, we may analyse and imbibe the principles and procedures from the nations who have been able to tackle the situation effectively by setting up and evolving dedicated institutional mechanisms. For instance, I may quote example of National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Reference may be drawn to National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) - a private, non-profit organization to serve as the national clearinghouse and resource centre for information about missing and exploited children – operating in United States. NCMEC also participates in the AMBER Alert Program, a voluntary partnership between broadcasters, transportation agencies, law enforcement agencies, and the wireless industry to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases.

NCMEC’s forensic artists have developed age-progressed images of long-term missing children and created facial reconstructions for unidentified deceased children which helps in identification and search with greater probabilities of success. NCMEC has analyzed more than 12,900 attempted child abductions to identify trends and help develop safety tips for families.

NCMEC operates the CyberTipline, a national mechanism for the public and electronic service providers to report instances of suspected child sexual exploitation with reference to publicly accessible websites (URLs) on which suspected child sexual abuse images appeared. NCMEC’s Child Victim Identification Program, which helps to locate and rescue child victims in abusive images, has reviewed more than 192 million images and videos and law enforcement has identified more than 12,500 child victims.


Change - that I am to humbly request for:

a.            Constitution of high level committee with participation of ground-level activists and child focussed NGOs to study institutional mechanisms and relevant case histories and to suggest measures to curb this menace in the Indian perspective with appropriate socio-legal framework.

b.            AADHAR registration for all the children may be rigorously promoted by involving schools at ground level. Once a lost child is spotted anywhere, provisions may be evoved that he/she may be taken to nearby AADHAR centre and his/her details may be ascertained by using biometrics. This will help in a great way if implemented successfully.

c.             Registration of sex offenders before release from prison and their area-wise updation on dedicated website must be ensured. A periodic report on any suspicious activities of such persons may be obtained through citizen-police partnership through local area police thana. Establishment of state-wise genetic databases containing DNA samples from the convicted sex offenders may also be maintained at advanced stage in order to enable law-enforcement agencies to track and curb resurgence of any suspicious  activity of such offenders.

d.            The serious efforts of the police officials and other allied personnel who help to crack cases of child kidnapping or missing child cases often go unrewarded or even unrecognized leading to apathy towards the issue.  However, in reality, solving one such case leads to prevention of many offences that may arise as consequences. This needs to be appreciated and suitably rewarded to encourage serious efforts on such issues.

e.            A large network of begging has deepened its roots in metropolitan cities which gets nourished through child abduction and child trafficking. Instances like supply of children by crèches for the purpose of begging during day care time exposes vulnerability of children towards begging syndicate. A strong crackdown on this nexus will significantly help in eradicating child kidnapping and exploitation menace.   Public should be encouraged to report such instances and quick action on such reporting should be ensured through institutionalized mechanisms. This public participation can only be achieved when it is made legally clear that such reporting person will not be questioned or summoned by any of the authorities in connection with proceedings of the case and proper safeguard in the form of anonymity will be available as per choice.

f.             There must not be any waiting period for registration of child kidnapping report. The procedural delay of every passing hour diminishes the probabilities of immediate tracing. The FIR must be registered and immediate follow up must be ensured with wide publicity in vicinity on priority basis. Use of social media platforms has shown noticeable results in recent past. The same may be refined and integrated for holistic dissemination of information on getting missing report in the first instance.

g.            Exploring possibilities of maintaining national database for confirmed cases of kidnapping with allocation of Unique Identification Code and then broadcasting the image with this code in dedicated space, earmarked for the purpose through evolved policy decision, in various news channels. People having any information of a specific child will have the option to dial designated toll-free number, quoting Unique Identification Code displayed with image, to provide available information. Although I understand that there are similar mechanisms (like Khoya Paya Portal, which need to be visited purposely by the affected persons only), but they are not successful because images of missing children are not disseminated in the way to attract attention of the viewers. This can be achieved only when they are broadcasted on platforms which are most-viewed as of today, i.e., news channels. The screen-space, earmarked so, may be compensated through various means like evolving mechanism to include such advertising in Corporate Social Responsibility component or other means may be worked out by experts.

h.            It is indeed a fact that the early hours of abduction are the most dangerous hours for the child. Hence focus must be on early dissemination of information through most popular modes of communications.

i.              Expert committee as proposed above, may invite suggestions from public and analyse them for further implementation as India – being a country of more than 1 billion thinkers – has much more to offer, to analyse and to improve when compared to thinking abilities of a single citizen.

                 Your support may revive a lost life.