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Why clothes are key to solving missing child cases

May 21, 2018 08:17 IST

'Parents always remember what their child was last wearing, so it helps in both verifying what they say as well in identifying the child correctly even after many years have gone by,' says the head of a crack Delhi police team which has traced 54 missing children in the last one year.
A Ganesh Nadar reports.

IMAGE: The tenacious seven from the anti-human trafficking unit at the West Delhi police district.

Press Trust of India recently reported that the anti-human trafficking unit at the West Delhi police district reunited 54 missing children with their families in the past one year, some of who had been missing for 12 years.

In all, between March 2017 and April 2018, the anti-human trafficking unit traced 54 children from different shelters and children's homes, the PTI report said.

The feat was accomplished by a group of seven dedicated officers and men of the Delhi police, one of who is said to sit at the computer the whole day scanning the national database of trackthemissingchild.gov.in to find if it matches any of the children they are trying to help.

 

Inspector Vijay Pal, who heads the anti-human trafficking unit, told Rediff.com, "Whenever any child is found roaming on the streets by social workers or by the police, they are sent to children's homes. The local police station maintains a record of what they said at that time and also makes a record of the clothes they were wearing."

"The children's homes keep this set of clothes very safe, as this is important evidence," adds Inspector Pal. "For the parents always remember what their child was last wearing, so it helps in both verifying what they say as well in identifying the child correctly even after many years have gone by."

"We go to the shelters and talk to the children to find out what memories they have of their home. If they mention the name of a village, we search for it and contact the local police station there and find out if there are any missing children of that particular age. If there is a match we go there and bring the parents here," Inspector Pal explains.

"We do a DNA test to make sure that what they are saying is true. Sometimes it matches and sometimes it doesn't."

"One child knew the name of his village, but did not know his parents' name," the inspector recalls. "He had been missing for 12 years and had come here (Delhi) as a 6 year old. All he remembered was that his father sold belts. We went there and found another belt-seller who gave us details of all the belt-sellers in his village. We then managed to find the father."

"Once we know where the child was found, we contact the local police station and find out what the child had told them at the time. They may have forgotten it now, but at that time the memory was fresh. This gives us clues as to where to search."

"We have pictures of the children we are trying to restore to the parents," says Inspector Pal. "One man from our team matches this with the data on the government Web site. We have found parents through this method."

"It is continuous work, sometimes we are successful and sometimes not. But we carry on our work on a daily and continuous basis."

A Ganesh Nadar / Rediff.com