Abigel returned safely, but where are the 62 children who went missing in 5 years?

Representational image. Photo: Shutterstock

Kannur: Though the 21-hour-long abduction drama had a happy ending on Tuesday when Abigel Sara Reji was found from Ashram Grounds in Kollam, Kerala Police's record in solving missing children cases is rather poor, Assembly records show.

Between 2018 and 2023 (till March), 62 children have gone missing from the across state, some under mysterious circumstances. The untraced minors include 43 boys and 19 girls.

Despite the agonising wait of the families, the investigation agencies have submitted closure reports in courts in six cases after hitting a dead end. This was revealed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the state Assembly recently while replying to an 'unstarred' question raised by Manjalamkzuhi Ali. In his reply, Pinarayi said that a report has been sent to respective courts to declare six cases 'un-detected' and permit to close them. These cases involved missing children of migrant parents.

As per the data, presented in the Assembly, Malappuram district topped the list with 10 missing children yet to be traced in the past five years, followed by Kasargod (eight) and Kozhikode city (seven).

Similarly, police are yet to crack child missing cases in Ernakulam (11) and Thiruvananthapuram (seven) districts.

K V Manoj Kumar, chairman of the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said the incidents of missing children are a matter of serious concern. "We have held a meeting with state police to discuss the issue in detail and to check the status of the investigation in child missing cases. Though most of the children have been traced, the police are yet to find some cases. Commission wants to find all children that have gone missing. Police should act the way they did in investigating the kidnapping of a girl from Oyoor in Kollam," he said.

He added that the Kollam incident showed how people from all walks of life came together to save a child. "The police mechanism also functioned effectively in this case. Such coordinated effort is required in other cases also," he said.

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