Incidents of mob violence sparked by rumours about child lifters on the prowl are also linked to the lack of public confidence in the police’s ability to track down the criminals and recover the kidnapped children, a senior government official said after the union home ministry issued its advisory on Wednesday.
The home ministry said state governments should take steps to prevent mob violence triggered by rumours. One way could be to keep detect rumours circulating on social media in their respective areas well before the public vents its anger and frustration at individuals, or groups suspected to be kidnappers.
The home ministry advisory said the states also needed up scale up efforts to ensure that complaints of kidnapping are properly investigated by the police “to instil confidence among the affected persons”.
In many ways, the official said, the mob violence was also a poor reflection of the public confidence in the police machinery to track down the kidnappers, recover the children and punish the guilty.
For good reasons. Citing official statistics, home ministry officials say there has been has been a 30 per cent increase in child kidnapping cases over the last year. “States have been asked why there is so much rise in cases under this head,” a senior official told NDTV.
According to home ministry figures, 54,723 child kidnapping cases were reported in 2016, 41,893 cases in 2015 and 37,854 cases in 2014.
The figures also indicate that the culprits were not found in a large number of cases. The police filed charges against the kidnappers in only 40 per cent cases in 2016. And the accused were convicted in only 23 per cent of the cases decided in 2016.
This means, three out of four people put to trial for child kidnapping walked free.
“If cases result in conviction, then it can and will act as a deterrent. Certainty of punishment and not just the quantum of punishment is a great deterrent,” a senior officer explained.
“But due to sloppy probes, police don’t even file charge sheets in many cases,” he said, elaborating why the home ministry had attempted to sensitise states to “properly investigate” these crimes.