An innovative approach to the recovery of missing children was announced by Muhammad Ali, president of Roshni Helpline, while addressing the media at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Friday afternoon.
The method consists in posting pictures of missing children on trucks and utilise the institution of truck art in the implementation of this noble endeavour. The idea, he said, was to create mass awareness about the social evil. The names and addresses of the missing children’s next-of-kin are painted along with the children’s pictures on the trucks.
He said that this method had been started in Multan and Rawalpindi, and this system seemed to be off to a good start. Since January 2019, he said, calls had been received by the helpline (1138) in response to pictures of 20 children. Seven children, he said, had been recovered.
Fazal Noor, a board member of the helpline, said that a cell on missing children was set up in the Karachi police a year ago. “We cooperate with the police in this endeavour, but there is no funding from any governmental or other agency as there is not the required amount of awareness about the evil,” Noor said.
“We don’t see the required seriousness on the part of the concerned agencies,” Noor added. He said that one of the disadvantages was delay on the part of the police station authorities in registering the FIR and said that the system must be streamlined to register the FIR right away. He felt that there was not the required amount of seriousness in the mode of investigation.
He said that we were not living in the 1980s or the 1990s. We were living in a very violent era with crime being rife and commercial and sexual exploitation of children being frightfully common. As such, he said, parents must be overly cautious about the whereabouts of their children and should never leave them unguarded.
“We appeal to the government to come up with a piece of legislation about missing children without losing any time,” he said. Ali said that there were 600 to 700 cases on the helplinhe every year and the average rate of recovery was 20 percent. He further said that there should be legislation to chain the beggar mafia, who kidnapped children, mostly under ten, mutilated them and used them for purposes of beggary.
He also said that parents should adopt a more understanding and sympathetic approach towards children as those who went missing in the 12-18 age group often were the ones who, sick of the parents’ overly disciplinarian stance or other differences, ran away from home. Others who addressed the press conference were Ali Asghar and Hina Mobeen. The press conference was held to coincide with International Missing Children’s Day.