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Missing children in North East rising
Published on 27 Dec. 2009 1:14 AM IST
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A recent study report from Nagaland has revealed a precarious trend regarding missing children, nearly half of which are from Assam. Major interventions notwithstanding, the situation is likely to seal the fate of many more young people. The study jointly carried out by Guwahati-based Foundation for Social Transformation (FST) and Prodigals’ Home of Dimapur, has come up with a number of startling facts related to young boys and girls who have disappeared, some under mysterious circumstances. Between January 2007 and August 2009, the number of young people who were reported as missing in newspapers was 230, a sizeable number considering the size of the state. Dimapur records the highest report of those missing with 68%, followed by Kohima with 27% and lesser numbers from Mokokchung, Wokha, Peren, Kiphire and Zunheboto. Surprisingly, of the total number that went missing 47 per cent hailed from Assam, whereas 26 per cent were from Nagaland. Four per cent of the children were from Arunachal Pradesh, three per cent each from Bangladesh, Nepal and Bihar. Many of them were working as domestic helps at homes or working in the unskilled sector. Nearly 54 per cent of those who disappeared were in the age group of 11 to 14 years, 29 per cent were less than 10 years old, while 21 per cent were aged between of 15-18 years. Other significant finds include the fact that 78 per cent of the missing vanished without any known reason. Those who were abducted or trafficked constitute 13 per cent, and five percent went away with some cash. Interestingly, of the total number that was reported missing, 65 per cent returned and 35 per cent could not be traced till the time the report was produced. Most of those who could be brought back were located by neighbours, strangers, or family, but around 32 per cent returned on their own. The study referring to interactions with the Women Cell, Dimapur, states that the Child Labour (Prevention & Regulation) Act is not being strictly enforced in Nagaland – if it were enforced in letter and spirit some Naga families would be in conflict with the law as they employ children below the age of 14 as domestic help. Those acquainted with the situation indicated the need to study the problem in more detail, and consequently evolve a strategy to combat it. They believe that some of those who have disappeared could actually have been victims of trafficking, and therefore inter-state police co-ordination should be vastly improved.

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