It seems that the fear of child lifting prevailing in different parts of the country is not completely unfounded, as nearly 55,000 children were kidnapped in India in 2016 -- a whopping 30 per cent increase over the previous year.
According to the 2017-18 report of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), 54,723 children were kidnapped in 2016 but charge sheets were filed in only 40.4 per cent of the cases.
The conviction rate in child kidnapping and abduction cases in 2016 was a dismal 22.7 per cent.
As many as 41,893 such incidents were recorded in 2015 and 37,854 in 2014. The figures for 2017 are yet to be published.
"Even though most of the lynchings in the recent past were fuelled by rumours of child lifting on social media, the statistics show that the fear of child kidnapping among people, especially those in the rural areas, is not completely unfounded," a ministry official said.
More than 20 people have been lynched over the last two months on suspicion of child lifting, the latest being the killing of five men in Maharashtra's Dhule district on July 1.
In an advisory, the ministry had urged the states and UTs to "keep a watch for early detection of rumours of child-lifting and initiate effective measures to counter them".
The MHA report also revealed that 8,132 cases of human trafficking were registered in the country in2016.
As many as 15,379 victims -- 5,229 males and 10,150 females -- were trafficked and 23,117 victims -- 10,347 males and 12,770 females -- were rescued.
The MHA report said 1,06,958 cases of crime against children were registered in the country in 2016 compared to 94,172 in 2015, an increase of 13.6 per cent.
Crimes were committed against 24 per one lakh children in 2016, according to the report.
A major increase in crime against children was noticed (in 2016) under "human trafficking, kidnapping and abduction, Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act and Juvenile Justice Act", the report said.
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