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

The police department 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.

According to police report, 1264 out of total 2072 kidnapped children were recovered from various cities of Punjab during year 2011; while in 2012, as many as 1260 children were kidnapped, out of which 1156 children were recovered.

In 2013, according to the police report, 1156 children were kidnapped and only six children were yet to be recovered. In 2014, the report added, 1203 children were abducted while 1185 were recovered.

The report further said that 1134 children were kidnapped during the last year and the police managed to recover 1093 kids.

During the hearing, the apex court was told by Additional IGP Arif Nawaz and Advocate General Shakil-ur-Rehman that most of the children were kidnapped from Lahore, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur and Bahawal Nagar and majority of them were recovered from railways and bus stations. The children who were abducted were between the age of 6 and 15, the police officer said, adding that special teams had been constituted for the recovery of children.

This year has been the worst as 52 children have been abducted in 2016. 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, according to the police report.

Children who get kidnapped, leave home, run away, or go missing are reported to police invariably as ‘abducted’, and police register a criminal case. But most of these children either return home on their own or police or some welfare institutions find them and re-unite them with their parents.

The police department, in its report, further submitted that most of the missing/kidnapped children left home due to parents’ harsh behavior and other family disputes. It is also observed that many of children - aging 8 to 17 - left home at their own accord due to domestic, economic issues.

The police report says that 44.1 percent children left home due to parents’ harsh behavior; 21.6 pc were lost and found; 7.6 pc fled due to family disputes; 6.1 pc were abducted by one of the parents; 5.1 pc were recovered during attempt of the offense at the spot; 4.6 pc ran away due to maltreatment at madaris (religious schools); 4.1 pc were abducted by their relatives; 2.9 pc miscellaneous factors; 2.3 pc were abducted for sexual abuse; and 1.6 pc were abnormal.

The report further highlights that the large-scale abductions are the issue of large urban centres, which are suffering from population explosion and migration from other areas.

44 children were kidnapped from Lahore; 18 from Rawalpindi; 8 from Sheikhpura; 4 from Okara; 3 each from Sialkot, Faisalabad, and Sargodha; 2 each from Bahawalpur and Pakpattan; while 1 kid each from Kasur, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Khushab, Sahiwal, and Rahim Yar Khan.

Acting CJP Saqib Nisar observed that it is very sensitive report and the apex court would get into the bottom of it. “It is responsibility of the state to provide protection to the citizens,” he added.

“Had the police not committed negligence, the SC would not have to take the notice,” he further observed.

The SC bench ordered police to complete investigation and submit reply on the next hearing. Parents of the children have also been directed to appear in the court on the next hearing, August 3.