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Disappearance of children and racial prejudices

Disappearance of children and racial prejudices

‘Reports’ of dangerous trafficking groups that kidnap children operating in Kerala have been gaining momentum now.

The facts provided by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan while replying to a submission by Dr M K Muneer provides relief from the rampant fear of child trafficking. It also helps in analyzing the racist mentality deep rooted in the minds of Keralites. The Chief Minister said in the Assembly that of the 1,774 children who went missing in the state in 2017, 1,725 children have been found and that 188 of the 199 people arrested in connection with the abduction of children last year were Keralites. He also added that there was no such frightening scenario existing in the state of the kind being spread on social media. A few months ago, the government had filed an affidavit in the High Court that the number of children who went missing during the three years from August 2014 to August 2017 was 2,221, that 2,171 children were traced down and that 50 of them were yet to be found. According to the Central Government’s website ‘Track the Missing Child’ that documents the missing and return of children on a daily basis, the number of children who went missing were 743 and those traced down through investigations were 661. What happened to the remaining 82 children still remains unknown.

The number of children who are still missing, however small, should be investigated. It is a matter where vigilance of the police and the society is essential as well. But it calls for serious analysis that the fear which spread uncontrolled through Kerala, where the number of children who go missing is trivial when compared to the national average, has paved way for mob violence and hatred towards migrant workers, and such fear should be strictly eliminated. Even after the explanation of the Chief Minister and DGP Loknath Behera’s stringent order that there was no room for apprehensions and that mobs should refrain from taking law into their hands, migrant workers did become victims to mob violence in different parts of the state. None experienced compunction in attacking in Manantheri, Kannur, a mentally challenged youth from Bihar in the name of suspicions, filming the incident and then zealously uploading it on social media. Even those who do not take part in the attacks, hail the assailants and enthusiastically send such videos to others, in the belief that it is the right course.

The fact that the mass hysteria of violent mobs, which is rampant in northern India, has got into the minds of Malayalees too, should serve as a hazard signal. The motive of child kidnapping the world over is sex trade, and not organ trade or begging, and the major victims of this are the children of nomads, as studies about the phenomenon illustrate. And the ones involved in such trade are people in the higher strata. Last year in Bengal the one arrested for child trafficking for the purpose of sex trade was a former secretary of BJP Women's Wing, Juhu Choudhury. But it is a fact that racial prejudices present facts upside down and the poor, despite being innocent will be victimized for prolonged witch-hunting. A fact probably being corroborated in Kerala too by the mob attacks.

The cyber warriors work overtime to weave fake, and crazy, stories as if non-Keralites ranging from those coming into the state in search of livelihood, to the vegetable farmers of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka were in a desperate attempt to destroy Keralites by feeding him with poison and molesting them. When these cyber folks, driven by racial prejudices become proponents of a phobia for the other, eat into the collective social wisdom and social health, it cannot be ignored. Of greater concern is the fact that even as emotional themes remain fake, they get broadcast in their own groups, alienate society from truth and solidify a mentality of false estrangement. Therefore, it needs to be probed whether there is a hidden agenda of such anti-social groups behind these fictitious cyber scare that appear repeatedly in Kerala. There has been a rise and spread of mobs that view the unfamiliar with suspicion, and at the first possible opportunity take the law into their own hands against them. And if we fail to stop this, it will not be long before kidnapping and arson become a matter of course.

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