New Delhi: The numbers paint a scary picture. In the 17 days of this month alone, 72 children have been reported missing from the capital. If you think this month has been particularly bad for Delhi's children, take a look at the figures since January 1, 2008. During this 414-day period, as many as 2,503 children have disappeared — an average of 6 missing kids every day.
And these are official figures culled from Zonal Integrated Police Network (zipnet.nic.in) data based on actual complaints. The real number could be higher.
The scale of the tragedy becomes clear if one looks at the number of recoveries. During this period, just 368 missing children were recovered, including many who had disappeared before 2008. The import is clear: An overwhelmingly large percentage of parents whose kids have gone missing, aren't likely to see them again..
The Delhi Police claim a majority of these kids have eloped, that is, willingly run away with a lover or someone else. But most parents refuse to buy this argument. Says Sambhu Kumar, father of 4-year-old Gaurav, missing from Gokalpuri since February 3, ''My child surely cannot elope. Yet, police say I am primarily responsible for what has happened and that I have not been a good father. Why are they not trying to find my son?''
WHERE ARE ALL THESE KIDS?
According to police data, 2,503 minors missing in capital since Jan 1, 2008. That's an average of 6 children going missing every day
115 of these cases reported from a single police station — Gokalpuri in north-east Delhi. The north-east police district recorded 540 cases in just 383 days
In Feb so far, 72 cases of missing children have been recorded
Police chief announces helpline for missing kids
New Delhi: With a large number of children reported missing in Delhi, police commissioner Y S Dadwal on Wednesday announced the setting up of a new helpline. ''We will start a helpline for missing children within a few weeks. Although we haven't observed a pattern in the way the children are going missing, the matter is being probed. For us, nothing is more precious than the safety of children,'' he said.
Perhaps a good place to begin this investigation would be Gokalpuri in northeast Delhi. A whopping 115 missing cases have been reported from this police station alone. In the northeast district as a whole, there have been 540 cases in a period of 383 days. Even in New Delhi district 32 children have been reported missing.
Some senior police officials even deny their own figures. When contacted, a senior official of northeast district claimed, ''The figures are grossly inflated.'' Surendra Yadav, DCP, North-East, said, ''There is a need to crosscheck the numbers.''
''Most families here belong to the lower strata. The level of education is low. Even common interactions between men and women are frowned upon by elders. This often leads to quarrels and elopements,'' said a senior cop.
Commissioner Dadwal said that the case of six teenagers missing from New Sanjay Amar Colony area in east Delhi since February 11 was that of elopement. TOI had highlighted the case on Wednesday. ''There were two couples among the six who went missing and two other friends. We are sure that they eloped together. We have put our teams on the job to track them down,'' he said.
The students had told their parents that they were going to school and would go for a picnic later. Two cases of kidnapping have been registered.
Residents of New Sanjay Nagar colony had alleged on Tuesday that as many as 22 children were missing from the colony in a span of a few years. However, DCP (east) Anand Mohan said, ''We have received complaints for only 13 such cases. We are taking these cases very seriously and have handed them over to the district investigation unit.''
Dadwal seemed confident that while the number of missing children seems to be rising, there is no pattern which could lead them to believe that an organised racket of kidnapping and trafficking is in operation.
Dadwal said, ''Although slums in border areas may be vulnerable, there is still no evidence to suggest that the children were kidnapped. Sometimes, children return home but their parents don't inform the police. We are not sitting on this issue, we are investigating it regularly.''