DO We Care For Rising Number of Missing Girl Children ?
It is being increasingly felt with concern that irrespective of widespread education and mass awareness through audio visual means, more specifically, expansion and reach of Net related services, the challenge of missing girl children keeps multiplying.
Alarming Numbers Vs Traced
Every month, 64,651 children go missing in the country.
In 2020, however, due to Covid, the number fell by 34,295.
Coming to Traced Children, as on 2nd Oct.2010, 59.7 % could be traced, of which, according to NCRB, 48,717 were girls and 15,832 were boys.
Thus, 52.8 % boys and 46.4% girls Could NOT BE TRACED.
This being a huge number, calls for much more serious efforts than what is being made both by Centre and States, together with a handful of NGO’s ,such as, one spearheaded by Kailash Satyarthi, the Nobel Peace Laureate.
State Wise Break Up
(2) M.P. with 17,058 nos. had the highest number of missing children, followed by W.Bengal with 16,027, Bihar with 12,404, Delhi with 12,232 and Maharastra with 8276 now.
It is no longer so, only from the hitherto remote pockets, wherein people have to struggle really hard to make a living.
We often say ,proliferation of Cell phones is leading to a kind of detachment but at the same time, it is also cutting short path to neo, rather shallow materialism.
Changing Behaviour Patterns
(3) The youth in general, prefer displaying conformity to their peer group while showing their displeasure or antagonism to the parents or the people even ‘senior ‘ to them.
Let us leave aside the difference that Government led interventions are capable of making, provided concerned beneficiary is also willing to supplement a bit from her side.
(4) A number of registered bodies or agents are seen acting as mediators or facilitators in this field, as per demand situation.
However, 24×7 dedicated Help Lines, regular updation and sharing of information with all stake holders ,training & collaborative spirit etc. remain grey areas leading to continued exploitation of vulnerable lots in domestic settings, unorganised units, eating joints or even fun places.
Putting the blame on somebody or the other and saving one’s own skin, does not help.
(5) Having been exposed to such a live and perpetual issue at the national level, once upon a time, one sadly gets attracted to media reports of the unwanted phenomenon, even if success stories happen, once in a blue moon.
(6) In one such case originating in a North East State, the teenaged girl who got deviated from the main course to land in ‘bad’ company, for good two to three years ,decided to have a change of heart but could not possibly adjust in the company of her now destitute mother. Anticipating further dark days ahead , she remembered and succeeded in contacting one of her former somewhat caring if not kind “clients” in Pune. Change in circumstances, by this time, resulted into something she would not have ever imagined.
Both met each other after the girl decided to break with her mother and chose to lead a settled life of a compromised “couple”.
I felt dejected, for a while, if not defeated, as being a passionate public servant heading the State office in Delhi, I had played a role in her re-union to old family. But I shall have a feel of satisfaction if told now about her new found and stable life.
It is a fact, not figment of my imagination.
Cases B to E
(7) The following four episodes will convey different realities but one thing is common – all teenaged girls developed misunderstandings and were swayed by what they felt, were rosy situations on the other side of ” fence”.
(8) The case B pertains to erstwhile Bihar. Almost 25 years ago during my stint in M.H.A., in hey days of costly S.T.D. era, a teenager girl was eloped or kidnapped to Assam via the convenient and attractive destination of Delhi, to be finally hidden in the outskirts of Guwahati.
With adequate efforts and actionable intelligence, aided by the W.T. devices and Fax of the State and Central Police and kind interest shown by the then Assam Home Secretary, not only a trap was laid but within a week, but recovery was also possible.
What physical torture and mental trauma happened to the victim, could not be known.
Mostly in such cases, no one can give an idea whether a victim has undergone sexual or manual exploitation.And there is also no way to prevent the parents in question to be subject of taunts or unwelcome comments from the relatives and neighbours, subsequent to conclusion of an episode.
(9) The case C happened during my fourth year as Chief Secretary, Sikkim. An ‘outsider’ teenaged girl made news of her disappearance, soon after it was reported to the S.P., South Dist.
By the time his counterpart in one of the Dists in another State, this time, U.P., following the lead, picked up from nearest ATM and rail head, enabled the I.O. to reach the place of ultimate recovery.
As compared to the cases A and B ,rather swift movement on the part of S.P. took place due to easily accessible mobile network.Not always the first halt happens in the core of such activity, say Delhi.Sometimes the girl in question is guided or misguided to a contact or unknown place and then guided to her male friend or paramour. Cell numbers originally used by the victim or the culprit are obviously not used again or used after change of SIM. Purchase of cheap cell phones is also very much possible. Somehow, in respect of case C, owing to some loose ends, the girl in question was chased successfully from Delhi to be finally captured in Lucknow along with the accused.
Thereafter, both were taken to the place of occurrence. While the girl of Class 8th, despite being a co-partner, was reunited with her parents, the alleged kidnapper boy who is supposed to have facilitated the crime, was surprisingly put in judicial remand.
What ultimately happened to him, could not be known but the girl was “Engaged” once again, deep South, by her’ determined’ Scientist father.
Later, it was gathered that the main cause of the girl’s running away was also her earlier engagement with another boy, totally unknown to her.
(10) In respect of the case D, an I.T.trainee girl hailing yet again from East India, working in Bengaluru, was lured for better opportunity by a’ mobile boy friend ‘from North. Supposedly, upon taking care of her apprehensions, she was asked to report to Chandigarh. Upon reaching there, after arranging sufficient money, she was deceived for days, to finally land up outside a Mall at Gurgaon. Local police found her lying hungry, without sufficient clothes and incoherent utterances.Upon a medical check up, it was ascertained that she had lost her balance.When somehow her parents after chasing up a lead from Bengaluru, came to Delhi, they finally found her in a mental asylum. Even though she was not married and usual suspicion of rape could not be established, she kept crying and “looking for” her newborn baby, which probably did not exist.
On repeated refusal to be reunited to her father, at last, on gradual recovery, she agreed to return to her home in Eastern India.
(11) This ongoing Case emanating from Ranchi was the handiwork of some close cousins who managed kidnapping of a 6th Class ,14 year old girl from a crowded city Mall on 20th October, 2021. Upon, I should say, sizeable expenditure by the victim’s father and useful communication inputs to local Police by him, the harassed girl could be traced to a house again this time in Guwahati.
Further delay on the part of local Police could have led to usual trafficking route to Bangladesh or Nepal. Before a trap was laid ,girl in question was taken by her cousin ‘friend’ to Madhubani in Bihar. A hot chase led to the second place of hiding.The police party, however, had no option but to return due to lack of expected follow up by the Dist. S.P.
Weeks passed by. Uncertainty, naturally prevailed .The helpless, now mobile ‘exposed’ parents, kept approaching all concerned authorities who could possibly help.
Risking his life, the father met the S.P. of Madhubani after his efforts to seek support from some willing relatives and community elders proved futile. He became more anxious and penniless.
He has, however, not forgotten the guidance, financial & consistent moral support he has received from one of his known and respected well wishers.
When this writer was also approached in present retirement phase, my efforts to speak to the Ranchi SSP, followed by a personal face to face interaction brought some glimmer of hope.But the girl maybe, out of her own volition or adverse circumstances, was unable to risk any telephonic contact with the parents.
Almost four months passed by, just like that.
One silver lining, nevertheless, has come from the Mukhiya of the village, advising reportedly that the captive girl could be taken back.
Her father has claimed receiving first telephonic message recently from daughter also.Taking a cue, he may dare to go, to possibly fetch her.
How reliable are these messages, shall have to be verified very carefully, in a confidential manner.
Maybe, there is a fresh trap.
OR the parents and shelter providers had a second thought or a change of mind . The father, in the meanwhile, is willing to make another attempt but he feels, rightly that no justice could percolate to him, forget about even a faint hope of any punishment being meted out to the culprit. He is justifiably in a dilemma but that cannot be ruled out under the present circumstances.
(12) All said and done, this episode cannot be considered as a case of complete failure of the system or for that matter, available communication mechanism.
In a normal course, we may leave the rest to the fete of the Parents.
We May Ask, if we have Conscience –
How many of such vulnerable girl children will continue falling prey to the hounds of humanity, who grow up in the same set up that produces good Samaritans also ?
An early reaction or response or suggestion of the interested pubic oriented readers is welcome.
RATHER, SAME IS VERY MUCH CALLED FOR.
(The author is former Chief Secretary, Sikkim)