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National Issues/ Economy/ Politics

The case of ‘Missing Children’ in Indian metro cities!

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“Jhanvi, the three-year-old girl who went missing from the India Gate area on September 28, is a very lucky child, to say the least. Thanks to an aggressive search operation and an intensive social media campaign, the police found the child a week after the dreadful incident. But not all children are as lucky as Jhanvi: According to the National Crime Records Bureau data, a child goes missing every eight minutes in India and 40% are never found.
On Thursday, the Ghaziabad Police claimed that in the last two weeks, they have traced 98 boys and nine girls from 32 districts across four states and 48 of these children have been sent back to their families. To trace the children, the police formed 38 teams of five officers each and fanned out to different districts.

While this effort is commendable and should be replicated across the country, an important question that needs to be answered is: Why are such spectacular drives not conducted as soon as a child goes missing but only when there is public pressure/focus on such incidents?”

(Excerpt from the article: ‘The case of our missing resolve’ editorial Hindustan Times Dt Oct 12, 2014)

Time and again, absolutely ‘worldly clueless’ and ‘helpless’ children are exploited in most of the major metros in India. There is no sufficient ‘child protection laws’ that can pre-empt arrest of ‘exploiters of missing children’, who are a part of a big syndicate supported by unseen predators holding high positions in the so called civilized rich society. In this context, Kailash Satyarthi, founder of Bachban Bachao Andolan, being rewarded with Nobel Peace Prize is a significant achievement for his movement that saves and protects lost and orphan children from the clutches of the dangerous predators. Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) meaning ‘Save the Childhood movement’, started in 1980, symbolizes India’s largest grassroots movement for the protection of missing children. By 2013, BBA had rescued more than 82,800 victims of trafficking, slavery and child labour and has helped them re-establish trust in society and find promising futures for themselves.

I can very well recollect .. how emotional I used to get to be .. whenever I was encountered by small (two or three years old) children as beggars at the various railway platforms in the course of my travel to various districts of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa (during the years 1989-91) as part of my sales job. I would insist on buying them food instead of giving money to them. At least, I can rest assured that they will be definitely fed in this way. Child labor is rampant in developing countries such as India. Many of them are illegitimate children ( the Hindi movie “Laawaris’ starring Megastar Amitabh Bachchan, born as a result of social apathy, highlights on indiscriminate sexual promiscuity in high class societies residing in posh areas of Metros and their habit of literally dumping illegitimate children into unscrupulous orphanage homes, where these children are sold, traded and exploited)

In Mumbai, many ‘daily wage-based’ laborers migrate from the adjoining states like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Bihar etc. These states are not so well developed as Maharashtra and Gujarat are. These female laborers accompanying their husbands take up menial jobs to support and establish themselves to live in the ‘so called’ dream city Mumbai. They live on the pavements, under temporary shelters made of wastepaper boards and tin-sheets, by the road side. If you visit Reay Road located in Byculla west, the entire stretch of pavement on both the sides of the road are occupied by such dwellers. Some of them are multi-storied hutments built on the pavement. While I was working in Kores India, whenever I had to visit the company storage godown situated on Reay road, I would be shocked by the sight of such habitation and I would consciously try to hurry past. I could see through the window pane of the taxi I was travelling in .. many bright poor children who were not even completely clothed .. playing on the pavement or on the roads, while their parents were sleeping or busy cooking daily meal, right on the pavement. Some of these children are stolen and shockingly their parents give up searching for the lost children quite early and blame the situation on their ill fate or destiny.

Child labor and Child trafficking is prevalent in the tourism dependent State of Goa, especially inside the villas by the side of secluded beaches of Goa. These predators are generally originating from ‘civilized societies’ of Europe and United States – The tourism industry in this state has directly or indirectly contributed to the surge in human trafficking rackets in Goa. Demand for sex services by these tourists has led to an upsurge of trafficking rackets operating in the state. The child victims who have been forced into the sex trade are smuggled into Goa from various states of India and from Nepal, Bangladesh etc.

Metro Station Subways in ‘Dream city’ Mumbai are occupied by women beggars always carrying one year (or even lesser) old children on their lap. Recently, I read an article detailing on how these small children are drugged so that they sleep all the time through the day without disturbing the women beggars. These children are ‘rented out’ to the women beggars and a large syndicate controls this racket. Please note .. they are not the children of women beggars as they are claimed to be!! Once upon a time, about 15 years ago, at the Church-gate station subway, while I was returning from my work place late evening, I roughened up a begging couple to ensure they cloth the child, who was less than a year old, lying naked on a sheet with coins thrown around. I remember, it was during monsoon time and it was quite a cold weather.

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About Raman Ramamurthy

I am a Management consultant, an avid reader, play Lawn tennis in my leisure time and love Music. Presently, I am settled in India along with my wife and my son.

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