DEHRADUN: As if heart-wrenching images of children separated from their parents in theUttarakhand disaster were not enough, state chief secretary Subhash Kumar on Wednesday is learnt to have told a four-member team of National Commission for Child Protection Rights that 1,227 children were reported missing in the state since the flashfloods.
A top Uttarakhand IAS official told TOI that Kumar informed members of the visiting team that these 1,227 children were reported missing on the basis of FIRs lodged by their parents and close relatives. He is also believed to have made it clear to the team that if these children weren’t traced within a month of lodging of FIRs in different police stations and at the Uttarakhand missing persons cell, they would be declared dead.
NCPR chairperson Kushal Singh asked Kumar and other top officials to collect figures of missing children from different sources to get the exact number of missing children in Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh districts.
“As hundreds of children are suspected to have been either killed or are missing, we urgently want to know their exact number,” said Singh. “Every body is worried about their fate. It’s now our duty to apprise the people about what happened to them,” she said.
Singh told reporters the commission rushed to Dehradun to meet officials to prepare a report on children, as it was unable to get definite information. “Once we get a rough estimate of the number of children missing, we can try to find out the number of children killed in the tragedy,” said Singh.
She said members of her team also assured all possible help, including immediate release of funds from the commission to the state government, to help take care of the missing children or resettle them. Central government joint secretary Vivek Joshi, who was also a member of the visiting team, said they will also meet members of different children’s organizations.
A member of the team said under integrated Child Protection Act, state and central governments are bound to provide maximum help to the next of kin of those whose children were lost in the calamity. They said the Centre will also release funds meant for protection of children under the Act on top priority.