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The most heinous crime you can think of is kidnapping a child. With just one act, that for the kidnapper is nothing more than a step towards making some easy money, a child’s entire world is turned on its head.

The love and care, the pampering and pleasing of whims and fancies is suddenly replaced with brute force, harsh words and physical abuse. Puzzled and bewildered the child wonders what has happened to his or her fairy-tale world and who are these monsters that have suddenly replaced the angels in his or her life?

A horror story that for some children never ends, who are never found and either end up in some ditch or after several years appear on the roads as beggars to be exploited even more and these angels who could be going to schools in immaculate uniforms with tasty lunch boxes in their bags and farewell kisses from their mothers end up on street corners begging for alms that, in most cases are taken away by their handlers and they are left to contend with leftovers outside eateries to satisfy their hunger.

This is more than murder because murder at least is an end to suffering but being kidnapped and surviving to serve the criminals that carried out this horrible crime is eternal torture, humiliation and misery that cannot be described in words.

What brings me to this subject of kidnapped children is an alarming increase in child kidnapping in Karachi.

According to an NGO, there is an alarming increase in the incidents of kidnappings and mysterious disappearances of children in Karachi. As per the statistics gathered by this, non-governmental organization (NGO), 1255 children went missing during the year 2023 alone. Of these, over 950 were recovered while over 250 are still missing. Can you just imagine the plight of the remaining 250 and more than that, the plight of the parents of these children, specially the mothers?

It is not just children being abducted from the streets but even children that have just opened their eyes in this world. According to press reports, a newborn baby girl was abducted from the maternity ward of a government hospital.

The parents of the abducted baby were identified as Muhammad Ismail and his wife, residents of Baldia, Yusuf Goth. They were shattered by the news of their newborn daughter being taken away from them just moments after her birth.

The modus operandi of the crime came to light when the hospital authorities reviewed the CCTV footage. The video clearly showed a woman entering the maternity ward around 2 am, posing as a visitor. She can be seen calmly walking towards the baby girl’s crib, lifting her carefully, and swiftly leaving the hospital premises through the main gate.

It is bewildering to see the ease with which the abduction is executed; a heinous crime that will have horrific effects on the lives of the child concerned and the devastate family.

This incident has created an uproar and people are calling for stricter protocols to ensure the safety of patients, especially vulnerable newborns, in healthcare facilities across the city. This incidentally is not the first such occurrence.

Every year there are reports of such attempts to kidnap newborns from the maternity wards of hospitals. All this requires greater vigilance at all hospitals public and private, to save innocent newborns from these unscrupulous men and women who have made it their profession to make money from human misery.

The anguish of parents in such a situation is best illustrated by the story of seven-year-old Pirya Kumari daughter of Raju Mal, who runs a grocery shop in Sangrar town of Tehsil Salehpat in Sukkur. Unidentified individuals kidnapped her from outside her home. Even after two years, there is still no trace of her.

When she went missing, Priya was a third-standard student in a local private school. Her mother, Veena Kumari, is overcome with grief. She cries constantly for her daughter and spends hours talking to the walls. It is the same with the father who has searched high and low for his daughter without success.

The pain and anguish of parents whose child has been kidnapped and the horrors the child must go through, prompts strict and swift action against the perpetrators of such crimes. Not only should they be caught but punished swiftly and rigorously to stop this inhuman trade from flourishing and turning the lives of parents concerned into a nightmare.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Zia Ul Islam Zuberi

The writer is a well-known columnist

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