The Telegraph
Monday , June 23 , 2014

Children missing, case closed

- Spotlight on Kerala bares darkness at home

Ranchi, June 22: The high-wattage hue and cry over Godda’s Muslim children trafficked or voluntarily sent off to Kerala orphanages has trained the spotlight on other cases where minors from Jharkhand have disappeared never to be found.

As 128 children from poor homes in Godda are officially back from Kerala, the CBI here admits it was recently forced to close the case of three missing children from Gumla.

Schoolboys Akash Raj, Shashank Shekhar and Pawan Soni went missing from Gumla on March 30, 2008. A fortnight back, the CBI, which started handling the case in 2011 at the behest of Jharkhand High Court, was conceded closure as investigations into the trio’s whereabouts had drawn a blank.

Sleuths said their “extensive efforts” comprised tracing bones and sending them for tests at Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Hyderabad, as well as in Gandhinagar for DNA matching; distributing “thousands of pamphlets”, interstate pooling of information, among others.

“All our efforts failed and we decided to close the case,” said CBI joint director (Bihar-Jharkhand range) A.K. Singh.

“Earlier, the CBI believed the boys were murdered. But forensic tests on human bones we recovered from Gumla in 2012 disprove they are of the boys. We sincerely worked on this case and visited other states for clues but couldn’t succeed,” Singh added.

A senior policeman hinted at the reason. “We had grilled at least 40 people and rounded up nine suspects. The case went to the CBI (in 2011) after much delay. By then, most evidence was either destroyed or diluted,” he said.

The CBI is also investigating another high-profile case of two missing Namkum children, which also appears to be headed nowhere.

Anup Kispotta alias Annu (4) and Ranjit Kispotta alias Guddu (8) disappeared in September 2010, from Namkum in Ranchi.

When CID (Jharkhand police) failed to trace them, aggrieved parent Susanna Kispotta in 2011 moved a PIL before Jharkhand High Court seeking justice. The high court directed the CBI to take over the case, a decision the investigating agency challenged before Supreme Court through special leave petition, arguing that it should not be probing cases that are primarily state police jobs. The Supreme Court ruled out CBI’s contention.

But from 2011 to now, “not much progress” has been made, said a CBI official.

CBI joint director defended the agency. “We got clues that these children were under custody of certain persons in Delhi and Gurgaon. Inputs were cross-checked but found to be of no use,” he said.

CID police, mainly responsible for tabs on child trafficking, set up a response cell with a helpline 9471300008 last October. From October till June, 217 missing cases, most from Khunti and Gumla, were registered. “Around 90 children were rescued,” claimed a CID officer, but did not come on quote.

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