MULTAN-Although it has been three days since the educational institutions re-opened after two and a half months long summer vacations, attendance is very thin at schools due to panic created by child-kidnapping rumours doing rounds in the town.

A survey of city schools revealed that majority of the parents are reluctant to send their kids to educational institutions while those, who agreed to send, drop and pick the children themselves.

At least seven cases have been registered by the police in Multan Range on complaints by the citizens regarding missing kids during the last one week. Regional Police Officer (RPO) Sultan Azam Taimoori has told the media that five of the cases have been registered in Multan and one each in Vehari and Lodhran districts.

However, the RPO insists that none of the cases fits the parameters used to ascertain child kidnapping.

On the other hand, highly charged on the abduction rumours, the citizens kept thrashing strangers on doubt of being the suspected kidnappers. A mentally-retarded woman has so far been tortured to death and many others injured in multiple mob thrashing incidents taking place in different areas of the town.

Keeping in view the situation, the RPO urged upon the citizens to refrain from taking law into their hands, reiterating that no gang of child kidnappers is active in Multan region.

“The investigations into all the cases registered for missing children have shown that they went missing either due to family disputes or annoyance with the parents,” he added while talking to the media.

Despite RPO’s efforts to normalise the situation, the people look hysteric and continue to catch the suspected persons. An enraged mob captured a woman and a man in Basti Malook area and vehemently thrashed them. Although police took them into custody and rushed the injured woman to hospital, she died on way. A case has been registered against 22 nominated and 200 unidentified persons.

In another case, Jalilabad police booked two residents of Chah Boharwala namely Asif and Saeed for spreading a child kidnapping rumour to avenge a personal dispute with their neighbour woman. A girl namely Nida Ashraf, 11, went missing from Delhi Gate area on Thursday but returned after few hours. A female college lecturer reported at Qasim Bela police check-post that a motorcyclist chased her rickshaw and tried to kidnap her son but she foiled his attempt.

However, reports coming from the adjoining areas of Multan suggested that some failed child kidnapping incidents took place in Jalalpur, Luddan, Burewala and Abdul Hakim towns. The timely intervention by the police foiled the attempts. A child, who went missing from Lodhran on Tuesday was found in Rahim Yar khan on Wednesday. He told the police that he had got annoyed with his family and thus fled to Rahim Yar khan.

Giving details of the cases regarding missing children, the RPO told media that all such cases registered during the years 2015 and 2016 were gathered in view of prevailing situation. “We’ve found out that either the children returned themselves or police recovered and handed them over to their parents,” he claimed. He said that except from the recent seven cases registered during the last one week, all other cases of 2016 had also been gathered. “Of seven cases, five have been registered in Multan, one Vehari and one Lodhran. None of these cases comes under the categories like child kidnapping for bonded labour, begging or sex,” he added. He appealed to the masses not to panic or take law into their hands after hearing rumours.