1897 Children In J&K Go Missing Since 2008

28 October 2015
Kashmir Observer
Nusrat Sidiq

Srinagar: One thousand eight hundred and ninety seven children have mysteriously disappeared from Jammu and Kashmir since 2008. The sensational disclosure was made by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in its latest report. The state has been witnessing a sharp rise in the number of missing children particularly since 2008. Despite recent advisories issued by the union government for containing crimes against children the trend has shown no decline. In Kashmir valley, the case of missing children came to prominence when a 3-year old boy of Habbakadal locality in Srinagar Mehran Lateef Mir went missing mysteriously in May 2008 after returning from school. After initial investigations by the J&K police, the case was handed over to CBI by High Court of Jammu and Kashmir for speedy investigation. However, after seven years kid remains untraceable. According to the latest data furnished by NCRB, a total of 1897 children in J&K went missing in the last five years; at an average one child has gone missing per day since the past three years. The data further denotes that in India, a child goes missing after every eight minutes and almost 40% of these missing children are not found. According to the report issued by Social Statistics Division of the Indian government, kidnapping is by far the highest reported crime against children in India. Nearly a total of 33,098 abduction cases were reported in 2011 which got raised by 24% in 2010 and 35% in 2014.These include kidnapping children for exporting to other countries, abducting kids for ransom or forcing them to beg. Separately, 3,517 incidents of child trafficking were recorded in 2011 and nearly 4,507 in 2012 which include buying and selling of girls for prostitution, child marriage and trafficking children for the illegal transplantation of organs. The report also states that India has the highest number of child laborers under the age of 14 in the world. Even though Indian law prohibits children working below the age of 14 but nearly 12.66 million children work as labourers, according to the data. Out of these 21% of children are employed in cigarette and bidi factories, 17% in construction companies and 15% as domestic workers .Nearly 85% of child labourers in India are hard to reach, invisible and excluded as they work largely in the unorganized sector. Also many missing children are never brought to the notice of the police, especially those in the commercial sex trade, say experts. In Jammu and Kashmir, in the year 2014, 490 children went missing out of which 235 were traced by law enforcement agencies while 255 remained untraced. Those traced included 126 male children and 109 female children while those untraced included 103 male and 152 female. For the same year, only 139 cases were registered out of which only 49 cases were charge sheeted by police. A total of 122 persons were arrested out of which 68 charge sheeted but conviction of persons remained zero. For the year 2013, a total of 431 children went missing from across Jammu and Kashmir out of which 237 were traced by law enforcement agencies while 194 remain untraced. 'Those traced by police included 118 male children and 119 female and those who were remained untraced included 84 male and 110 female. The percentage of missing children in the state stands at 29.7 percent. Jammu and Kashmir holds the seventh spot among the other states of India with West Bengal topping the list. From Kashmir Valley alone 562 kids have gone missing since 2008. Experts blame government and law enforcement agencies for the sharp rise in number of missing children in the state. They are of the view that there is no proper law in any of the states in India to overcome this problem. The previous government in the state did not do anything substantial in this regard. From the year 2008, missing cases have risen considerably in the state. Despite the latest advisory issued by Union Home Ministry to state government reads as, 'Set up exclusive 'Crime against Women-Children' desks in each police station. There should be no delay, whatsoever, in registration of FIRs in all cases of crime against children. All out efforts should be made to apprehend all the accused named in the FIR immediately so as to generate confidence in the victims and their family members. The administration and police should play a more proactive role in detection and investigation of crime against children and also ensuring that there is no under reporting'. The advisory's fourth section reads: Crime against children should be thoroughly investigated and accused persons should be charge sheeted within three months from the date of occurrence. Speedy investigation should be conducted in heinous crimes like rape, murder and trafficking. The advisory further reads that medical examination of kids must be conducted without any delay. The state police however has shown the thumb to the directions of the Union government as there is zero percent conviction rate in JK for crimes committed against children. The only silver lining is that in the first seven months of this year (2015) only 56 children have gone missing out of which 29 were traced back. 27 however remain untraced. Those traced included 18 male and 11 female, while untraced included 8 male and 10 female children.