Mrunal Manmay Dash

The freshly released National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data on the missing children count in Odisha has startled the residents of the State as almost 11 children went missing every day in the State in 2021.

As per the NCRB data, 16,654 children have gone missing in the last six years. In fact, there has been a 42% rise in missing children cases in 2021 as compared to 2020.

The record says, while 2899 children in Odisha went missing in 2020, 4133 children have gone untraceable in 2021, making it almost 11 missing children every day.

The data comes out in the backdrop of the sensational Pihu missing case in Jajpur's Binjharpur.

As per the reports, Pihu went missing on August 9, 2019, while playing on the road in Madhusudanpur village under Binjharpur police limits. Her mother Monalisha's repeated pleas at the Police station and at the district administration have allegedly failed to trace her daughter.

However, after two years, the Police have now put up missing posters of Pihu with an award of Rs 5 lakh for any information that would help trace the minor girl.

Alleging government apathy, Monalisha said, "I do not have any hope that the Police will ever bring back my daughter."

Pihu missing case is just the tip of the iceberg as the data revealed, that out of the total missing children in 2021, only 477 were boys while the number of missing girl children stood at 3656 pointing at organised child trafficking rackets operating imperiously in Odisha.

Speaking on the disturbing numbers, Childline Director Dr Benudhar Senapati said, "The police never follow the SOP. They sit on the FIR for a day before actually taking any concrete steps. Apart from that, the Police do not have any control over the traffickers who supply children from the transit to the destination."

Similarly, a Bhubaneswar-based child rights activist, Rini Mohanty said, "The government still does not know the traffickers. We have established many institutions to safeguard children's interests but all seem to be an eye wash, apparently."

Pertinent to mention here that the Odisha government has launched many special drives like Operation Smile, Operation Muskan and Pari to bring back the missing children, but all seem to be in vain.

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