Bhubaneswar: It is a distressing sign! The tracing rate of missing children had fallen to mere 14 per cent in 2018 from over 23 per cent in 2017. The dip in tracing rate looks quite nagging as Odisha is yet to trace a whopping 5,648 children missing since the year 2010.
According to the data available with the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB), last year the missing children reports filed stood provisionally at around 905. The data further revealed that the number of missing children recovered stood at mere 130 in 2018.
However, The SCRB data claimed that the recovery rate vis-a-vis the total missing children registered, including backlogs, till date in the State stood at around 44 per cent.
The SCRB data showed that when the total missing children recorded till the end of year 2018 stood at around 10,183, the total children recovered stood at around 4,535.
But a look at the year wise data revealed that the tracing out rate of missing children was a mere around 23 per cent in 2017. And the same fell to 14 per cent in 2018.
According to SCRB data, nearly 75 per cent of the missing children in the State were girls. It added that a high of around 4,500 missing girl children were yet to be traced out.
An analysis of the data revealed that missing children from age-group 14-17 years were around 60-65 per cent, which the State police believe were run-away children for varied causes like tiff in family or elopement.
However, what finds irritating is nearly one-third of the missing children were from the age-group of below 10 years. One cannot attribute such high missing rate in the age-group to elopement or tiff in family. Child right activists suspect it to be the handiwork of child-lifting gang or labour brokers who take such tender age children to supply them as cheap labour force in brick kilns or as domestic workers.
A district-wise analysis revealed that the spectre of missing children is rampant in as many as ten districts in the State. The districts are: Ganjam, Rayagada, Baleswar, Bhadrak, Nayagarh, Mayubhanj, Keonjhar, Sundergarh, Sambalpur and Angul.
Incidentally, the districts like Mayurbhanj and Rayagada in the recent past had seen eruption of street violence over missing children or mob lynching of suspected child-lifters.
Among the neighbourhood (Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand) region, only Jharkhand had recorded a poorer rate of around 12 per cent. In contrast, West Bengal had 88 per cent recovery rate in 2018. The tracing out rate of Chhattisgarh was at around 87 per cent. It was at around 64 per cent in Andhra Pradesh and at 40 per cent in Bihar in 2018.
Though the SCRB data showed a dip in missing children cases in 2018, a compendium of data available with the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) showed that Odisha stood 3rd in missing children numbers in the immediate neighbourhood region, after West Bengal and Chhattisgarh.