Twelve-year-old Mani Oaron (name changed) went missing from her small village in Arki block of Khunti district around a year ago but her family never approached the police to lodge a complaint. On being asked why, her mother said, “We do not have a photograph of her. Also, there is no identity proof. We were told that if we go to police they would ask for these documents.” Rani Xalxo (name changed) of Ranhi’s Lapung block said her daughter went missing around three years ago. “I do not have a photograph. Where do I get one from? Nobody in my village has a camera phone. One of my relatives has a phone which we use to make calls but it does not take photos,” she said.
A similar story is told in the interiors of Jharkhand: If a child goes missing, finding him or her becomes a big problem — for both the families as well as the police — due to lack of photographs or proper documents. Arti Kujur, chairperson, Jharkhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (JSCPCR) said, “I keep visiting villages and come across cases in which children have been missing for five to eight years but the parents never approached the police due to lack of photographs or identity proof. As a result, a number of such incidents go unreported.”Forty-five percent of children reported missing in Jharkhand are untraceable. Jharkhand Crime Investigation Department data shows 2,489 children were reported missing between 2013.