LAHORE: The provincial capital has witnessed a sharp surge in the number of kidnap/abduction of children.

Police, however, claim that most of these cases turn out to be of the runaway children or those missing due to family issues.

The official crime record shows 40 children were allegedly “kidnapped” from Lahore during the last 10 days of November and police recovered 27 of them and efforts are under way to trace others.

On Friday, police recovered two children who were kidnapped from Shadbagh and Sanda areas a few days ago. Two-year-old Abdul Rehman was allegedly kidnapped from Afshan Colony of Shadbagh and police resolved the case by arresting suspects Naila Bibi and Farooq Ijaz.

The Shadbagh investigation police traced the suspects through mobile phone call records besides using intelligence network, a police official said. He said the police recovered the two-year-old baby from the suspects and handed him over to his parents.

He said the woman was in some “doubtful relationship” with the suspected man and they were in search of a rented house in the area. The property owners had refused to rent out houses to them for not producing Nikahnama.

Meanwhile, the police official said, the ‘couple’ found Abdul Rehman in a street and kidnapped him to present him as their son to the property owners. They later managed to get a house on rent. He said the woman’s parents had already lodged a kidnap case against unknown men. While investigating this case, police reached the rented house and traced the woman. During house search, he said, police also found Abdul Rehman and on questioning, the woman told the truth.

In the other case, 11-year-old Naila was kidnapped from Sanda area on Thursday and police traced her through safe city cameras and recovered her from a shelter home. The police official said the girl used to go to a seminary where the teacher would beat her. The panicked girl on Thursday ran away from the seminary, he said, adding that locals later left her at a shelter home.

The provincial capital has witnessed a sharp increase in incidents of kidnap and runaway children due to multiple reasons. As for the other 40 children, the record showed the FIRs were lodged on the complaints of their parents under section 363 of the PPC.

The section 363 of the PPC reads, “Whoever kidnaps any person from Pakistan or from lawful guardianship, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Ten of them were girls, according to the official record available with Dawn. The data showed the police recovered 27 of these ‘kidnapped’ children. All the cases were registered under section 363 of the PPC (kidnap charges).

However, the police officers are of the view that most of them are runaway children, declaring it a serious problem in the local family system.

Lahore Investigation SSP Imran Kishwar told Dawn that under the new policy the incumbent regime of the city police had issued strict directions to all the divisional SPs and the SHOs for “free registration of cases”. He said this policy was being implemented in ‘letter and spirit’ for the first time which is evident from the official record of last 10 days of November.

Since most of them were those who had run away from homes, schools, seminaries and workplaces due to multiple reasons, police registered kidnapped cases as their parents were insisting on the same. Police traced most of them using multiple resources including safe city cameras, human intelligence and sources and reunited them with their parents.

The investigation linked most of these cases with the family issues/disputes or other reasons instead of serious charges of kidnap for ransom or any other criminal offence.

Mr Kishwar said several children were recovered from the local shelter homes or from the residences of their relatives. Some of the children reached their homes by themselves.

Referring to a case of Harbanspura, the police officer said Tayyabur Rehman filed a complaint against unknown persons claiming his four children Fajar, Tuba, Abdullah and Azmat had been kidnapped. Police registered a kidnap case under section 363 of the PPC and during investigation traced the four children from the house of her paternal grandmother, linking the matter with the family dispute.

Similarly, a kidnap case of four children of a family -- Araiba, Ali Hamza, Ali Raza and Alia -- was lodged with the Baghbanpura police station on the complaint of their mother Mafia Bibi.

It was learnt later that they were living with their father in Burewala district and the incident again was the result of the dispute between their parents.

The SSP said police were discharging their core functions effectively but the social perspective and family feuds must be addressed to prevent incidents of kidnap or ‘abduction’ of children.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2021

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