LAHORE: Punjab police informed the Supreme Court yesterday that 6793 children were kidnapped from various cities of Punjab during the last six years out of which 6654 children were recovered but 139 children are still missing.

Police submitted a detailed report to a two-judge bench by Justice Main Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman that was holding proceedings on a suo motu notice taken against increasing number of children’ kidnapping from Punjab at Supreme Court Lahore registry.

As hearing commenced, Additional Inspector General Punjab Police Arif Nawaz and Advocate General Punjab Shakil-ur-Rehman appeared.

According to police report, 2072 children were kidnapped from various cities of Punjab during year 2011 but out of these children only 1264 children were recovered.  In 2012, 1260 children were kidnapped out of which 1156 children were recovered, said the report. It said that in 2013, 1156 were kidnapped but only six children were yet to be recovered and in 2014, 1203 children were abducted and 1185 children were recovered. The report said that 1134 children were kidnapped during the last year and the police recovered 1093 children.  The police officer said that the most of the children were kidnapped from Lahore, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur and Bahawal Nagar and majority of them were recovered from railways stations and lorry addas (initercity bus stops).  He  also said that the children who were abducted were between the age of 6 and 15.  The official further said that special teams had been constituted for the recovery of children.

The report says, 2016 is the worst year for Children as 52 children have abducted during this year.   On average, about 1464 cases are registered across the province each year, and the most of these children have either returned home or have been found by institutions such as Child Protection and Welfare Bureau, Edhi, or police, it states. It also says that data shows that at least  98 % children about whom cases were registered have been re-united with their families. Children who are abducted, leave home, run away, or go missing are reported to police invariably  as ‘abducted’, and police registers a criminal case. But, most of these children either return home on their own or welfare institutions and/or police find them and re-unite them with their parents.

It further submits that many factors have been identified for children leaving home or gone missing. It identifies parents’ harsh behaviors as the top factor behind children’ rash behavior and running away from  the homes. It says that 44.1 % left home due to parents’ harsh behavior, 21.6 % were lost and found, 7.6 % fled due to family disputes, 6.1 % were abducted by one of the parents, 5.1 % were recovered during attempt of the offense at the spot, 4.6 % ran away due to maltreatment at madaris, 4.1 %  were abducted by their relatives, 2.9 % miscellaneous factors, 2.3 % were abducted for sexual abuse and 1.6 % were abnormal.  The report says that the district-wise-break-up of the children not recovered (2015-16) so far which is evident from the analysis that this is an issue of large urban centres, which are suffering from population explosion and migration from other areas. Police report says that 44 children were kidnapped from Lahore, 18 from Rawalpindi, 08 from Sheikhpura, 04 from Okara, 03 from Sialkot, 03 from Faisalabad, 03 from Sargodha, 02 from Bahawalpur, 02 from Pakpattan, 01 from Kasur, 01 from Gujranwala, 01 from Hafizabad, 01 from Khushab, 01 from Sahiwal and 01 from Rahim Yar Khan.  Police say that social-economic factors are responsible for missing/run away children.

At this, Justice Saqib Nisar observed that it is very sensitive report and they would get into the bottom of it as to why it happened and how.  The bench also observed that had police not committed negligence the SC would have not taken the suo motu. Justice Nisar remarked that it is responsibility of the state to provide protection to the citizens.  The Judge ordered police to complete investigation and submit reply on the next hearing. The Court also directed parents of the children to appear in the court on the next hearing and adjourned hearing until August 3.

Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, on July 2 had taken suo motu notice on rapid increasing incidents of children’ kidnapping and had sought report from the IG.