16,808 persons go missing in three years

April 09, 2017

The Himalayan Times, 8th April 2017, Kathmandu

A total of 16,808 persons were reported missing in the last three fiscal years with the whereabouts of many of them still remaining unknown.

According to the Search and Coordination Section under the Crime Investigation Department of Nepal Police, the number of persons missing is on an increasing trend. Nepal Police recorded as many as 5,168 missing complaints in the fiscal 2013/14 compared to 5,683 in 2014/15 and 5,957 in 2015/16, according to an official figure.

Over 80 per cent of missing persons are women and children, mostly in the age group of 16 to 25 years.

Despite complaints with police, rigorous search by grieving families and broadcast and publication of information about missing persons, whereabouts of 14,107 persons still remain unknown. With slight increase in missing cases, the number of traced persons has also gone up over the years.

Of the missing persons, 415 were traced in 2013/14 against 846 in 2014/15 and 1,440 in 2015/16. The SCS initiates search and rescue operation on the basis of official documents, name, sex, physical description and distinguishing feature and photograph of the missing victims by circulating information to all police units throughout the country.

SP Pradhyumna Kumar Karki attributed the high number of untraced persons to the tendency of the complainants going out of contact once the ‘missing complaint’ is lodged. Many of the families which lodge complaint with the police do not communicate with the law enforcement agency even after the missing persons turn up at home on their own accord, or are found.

According to the police, the search never ends, but some cases of missing can also be linked to human trafficking, murder, unclaimed death, or people leaving home to pursue a career of their own choice.

On average, one  person found dead elsewhere in the country a day is never identified. The lack of DNA data bank in the country has made it difficult for the law enforcement agency to identify the bodies.

A recent report by the National Human Rights Commission has stated that the high number of untraced missing persons suggests a possible linkage between trafficking and the ‘missing children phenomenon’.

The illegal extraction of human organs and trafficking of persons for kidney removal also cannot be ruled out behind the cases which remain unknown for years.

The trafficking of children for circus performance to India has been a long history, especially in places like Makwanpur, Bara, and Rautahat districts. Children, especially between the ages of 5 and 13 years, are victims of trafficking for circus performances in India, and girls are in higher demand than boys.

The Nepal Police does not have adequate resources and trained staff to understand what has happened to those who remain missing, said the constitutional rights watchdog.