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29 children in MP, 14 in Rajasthan went missing per day in 2021: NGO report

New Delhi: On an average, 29 children in Madhya Pradesh and 14 in Rajasthan went missing every day in 2021, according to a new report of child rights NGO CRY, which revealed that there was a significant increase in the number of missing children cases in four major states of north India.

Also, five children went missing per day in Delhi in 2021 in eight police districts, according to the "Status Report on Missing Children" report of Child Rights and You (CRY), which also said on an average, eight children -- six girls and two boys -- went missing per day from 58 districts of Uttar Pradesh.

The report revealed that the number of missing girls in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan was reported five times higher than that of boys in 2021.

While 8,751 cases of missing children were registered in Madhya Pradesh and 3,179 in Rajasthan (National Crime Records Bureau, 2020), the figures increased to 10,648 in Madhya Pradesh and 5,354 in Rajasthan in 2021, as revealed by the state governments in response to RTI applications filed by the CRY's partner organisations.

The data received from Madhya Pradesh shows that the number of missing girls over a period of 11 months is about five times higher than that of the boys.

The data collected through RTI applications shows that the top five districts in terms of number of missing children are Indore, Bhopal, Dhar, Jabalpur and Rewa.

"On an average, 29 children, including 24 girls and five boys, went missing per day from Madhya Pradesh," the report said.

A total of 2,998 children -- 835 boys and 2,163 girls -- were reported missing in Uttar Pradesh in 2021 (data of 58 of the 75 districts). About 88.9 per cent of the children reported missing in the state belonged to the age group of 12-18 years.

The data shows that the top five districts in Uttar Pradesh in terms of number of missing children are Lucknow, Moradabad, Kanpur Nagar, Meerut and Maharajganj.

The report said five children went missing per day in Delhi in 2021 in the districts for which data was available and a total of 1,641 children were reported missing in eight districts of the national capital in 2021. About 85 per cent of the children reported missing in Delhi were aged 12-18 years.

According to the records made available, the number of missing children in 2021 is the highest for North East district and the lowest for South East district. The maximum number of children in the 12-18 age group went missing from North East district. The data for West, North West and South districts was not provided.

In Rajasthan, a total of 5,354 children -- 4,468 girls and 886 boys -- went missing.

"On an average, 14 children, including 12 girls and two boys, went missing each day in Rajasthan," it said.

The data indicated an increase of around 26 per cent in the number of cases of missing children in Madhya Pradesh and a 41-per cent rise in Rajasthan as compared to 2020.

Moreover, of the 2,222 children trafficked in 2020, Rajasthan accounted for the highest number of cases (815 or 36.6 per cent), the report said.

For Uttar Pradesh, data was provided for only 58 districts. Similarly, data for all the police districts was not provided in Delhi. For Haryana, there was no response to the RTI applications.

The report also said the proportion of girl children in the total number of missing children rose from about 65 per cent in 2016 to 77 per cent in 2020 at the all-India level.

This was the trend for all the five states with the exception of Haryana in 2018, when the proportion of girl children in the total number of missing children dipped slightly. Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are the two states with the highest proportion of girl children in the total number of missing children, it said.

"In Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, among the children who went missing in 2021, more than 83 per cent were girls. In absolute numbers, Madhya Pradesh reported 8,876 cases of missing girls, while Rajasthan reported 4,468 cases of missing girls last year. It is a matter of grave concern that the trend of girls constituting a significantly higher proportion of missing children has persisted for the last five years," said Soha Moitra, the regional director of CRY (North).

"The in-depth analysis of the NCRB data done in this status report also suggests that the proportion of girl children in the total number of missing children has increased from about 65 per cent in 2016 to 77 per cent in 2020 at the all-India level. This has been the trend across all the four states, with Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan accounting for the highest proportion of girl children among all the missing children," Moitra said.

She said the phenomenon of missing girls constituting the larger portion of missing children could have been driven by an increased demand for domestic helps, commercial sex work and girls themselves running away due to domestic violence, abuse and neglect.

"The numbers of missing boys are also of a grave concern as the demand for child labour has increased due to the shortage of cheap labour in the unorganised sector during the (COVID-19) pandemic," Moitra said.

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