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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Is Odisha emerging as the child and women trafficking hub in the country? The yawning gap between the missing and tracing rate of the girl child/women in the State alludes so.

Sample the enormity. As per statement laid in the Assembly, when as many as 502 girl child had gone missing in the period of January to March this year, the State police could trace only 79. The trace out rate in the State stood at a measly 15 per cent.

Similarly, as per data available with the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB), number of adult women gone missing in the same period in the State stood at around 1,450. And the trace out rate here is also below 20 per cent.

Significantly, the Apex court in its judgement has directed a state police to immediately register a missing child/person case under the IPC trafficking provisions. Senior advocates are of the view that as Odisha police failed to trace out the majority of missing girl child/women for years, such missing reports can be taken as trafficking cases.

Interestingly, Odisha is the only state in the eastern India and its immediate neighbourhood that had posted a poor tracing out rate of the missing women/girl child.

Consider this. As per Union Women and Child Development ministry report, the tracing out rate of missing children in West Bengal in 2018-19 stood at 95 per cent, Andhra Pradesh had a rate of 52 per cent and Chhattisgarh had a rate of 86 per cent.

Only Odisha and Jharkhand had a poor retrieval rate of 14 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively. Though Jharkhand has a poorer tracing out rate than Odisha, the fact is missing children load in Odisha are now numbered at a massive 10,258 vis-a-vis of a mere 864 in Jharkhand.

Odisha is currently saddled with over 5,703 untraced girl child vis-a-vis of a mere 763 in Jharkhand. The girl children have been missing since 2010.

Ditto is the case in adult women tracing out rate. Odisha and Jharkhand again fared the poorest. The rates were below 20 per cent. In contrast, the retrieval rate of women/girl child  nationally stood at over 50 per cent.

However, here too the missing women load in Odisha is nearly double of that of Jharkhand.  Odisha is now saddled with a load of over 8,605 untraced missing women against that of around 925 in Jharkhand. The missing reports of many such untraced women were filed in 2008.

Analysis of SCRB data district wise suggests that missing girl children/women burden was borne by 8-10 districts. And around 13 districts in the State bear the burden of the missing boys.

Keonjhar registers maximum cases of girl child missing, whereas Sundergarh records highest missing women cases.  In case of missing boys, Sambalpur leads the pack followed by Keonjhar, Jharsuguda, Bhadrak and Angul.

As per a Child Welfare Committee study, the lackadaisical functioning of juvenile unit of State police is responsible for increased trafficking of females from the State.

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