Jhuma, her husband Baban, and their three-year-old son moved to Gurugram two years ago, from West Bengal for a better life. They lived in one of the many settlements near the high rises.
While the couple would work as domestic help, their son would stay at home or play with neighbouring kids until Jhuma returned in the afternoon. This practice lasted more than a year.
However, one day, when Jhuma returned home in the afternoon, the boy was nowhere to be found. Despite several attempts, the parents have been unsuccessful in finding their boy.
This is not a one-off case because every month a child from these settlements goes missing. The parents run from pillar to post and receive little or no help from local police authorities. Finally, due to lack of financial resources, they are forced to return to their villages without their children.
According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, 2,42,938 children disappeared between 2012 and 2017.
In a conversation with The Better India, Bhuwan Ribhu, from Bachpan Bachao Andolan, explained why it is imperative for government agencies to start using the Facial Recognition Software (FRS) to help track missing children.
The government of India has a website called www.trackthemissingchild.gov.in which has information on all reported missing children and those who are lodged in various child care institutions across the country.
“India currently has almost 2 lakh missing children and about 90,000 lodged in various child care institutions. It is almost impossible for anyone manually go through photographs to match the children. Therefore the FRS, which aids in making the match, is being promoted by Bachpan Bachao Andolan,” he said.
The organisation has been working towards this software for almost two years. On April 5, 2018, an intervention by the Delhi High Court helped the Delhi Police run a pilot programme, with their version of the software.
In so doing, the Delhi police managed to reunite 2930 missing children with their families within five days.
However, Bhuwan says, “It is immaterial whether other police departments use the software or not. Even if one department has this software, then running it through all their databases, under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, will throw up the requisite results, which can be shared with the other departments.”
One of the other things that Bachpan Bachao Andolan has been pushing for is the setting up of a National Children’s Tribunal on the lines of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
We hope that with the aid of such technology we can reunite many more missing children with their families.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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