The link between missing persons and human trafficking was first reported in the NHRC Action Research (Sen/ Nair) in 2004. Across the country, hundreds of women and children disappear daily and a large no of them continue to remain missing. The law enforcement agencies in the absence of any technical and monitoring mechanism remain clueless about the whereabouts of the missing persons. Only a half hearted approach happens where they transmit the case details to the district and State offices. After sometime a hue and cry notice is published and the case becomes part of the State and the National Crime Records Bureau Data and Statistics.
It has been seen in many cases that even a FIR is not registered. State Police across the country, barring a few states, just enter the data in the missing person’s diary and hence the real cases of trafficking of children and women are never tabulated or get reflected in the cognizable offence section of the National Crime Records Data. The Crime record data thus remains incomplete and most of these cases continue to remain pending in the missing persons list.
In cases of missing children there is also a huge number of cases which never gets reported as many parents and relatives fear to go to the Police Stations for reporting the case as traffickers by fraud and deception obtain the consent of the parents or relatives. Such cases are never reported as the relatives or parents fear that they may be prosecuted.
The NHRC Action Research 2004 brought out very clearly the linkages between missing cases and trafficking. Many NGOs working on Anti Trafficking have also reported that in many cases of recovered and rescued victims of trafficking they are able to trace the missing persons report at the local police station level.
India has in May 2011, ratified the UN Trafficking Protocol. It has accepted and acknowledged the fact that trafficking is an organised crime and is the second largest money spinning illicit trade. It has a wide network of traffickers across the country who procure women and children from deep rural areas where there is low awareness on the issue or back breaking poverty. The traffickers move in the community as placement agencies, recruitment agencies, job agents or contractors etc. Some of the women and children especially young girls are recruited by professing love and promise of marriage and lured to elope. In most of the cases local level traffickers are involved. The huge demand for victims fuels the supply. Hundreds of women and children get sucked into the trade through this organised crime and end up in life of slavery. Many of these cases are never reported. Some cases are reported by parents only after a considerable period of time has passed. Apart from this, many children are abducted and kidnapped by gangs operating in the source areas. Investigations by police agencies report presence of such organised crime syndicates which are operating openly with much ease and fearless of the law. Finally many of these victims who are trafficked just become numbers and are reflected in the Crime Records Bureau Data.
Research by many agencies and also by the NHRC Action Research has proved the fact that the traffickers use well defined routes for transiting a procured person from the source areas to the destination. Many source areas have fixed destination and this makes it very clear that if a rapid response system of reporting and search is put in place many of these victims can be rescued before they are exploited and sold during the transit period itself.
The Government of India after recommendations by the NHRC Action Research report has seriously contemplated to have an infrastructural support network for tracing of missing persons and their rescue.
The Supreme Court of India detailed guidelines on 14-11-2002 , while hearing the Writ Petition (Crl) No 610 of 1996 filed by Horilal vs Commissioner of Police , Delhi and Ors with regards to effective and emergency steps to be taken in case of tracing out the missing women and children.
The Nithari Case in 2007 once again brought the plight of missing children and women before the nation. The case was a classic example of how the law enforcement agencies treat the missing persons as regular cases and even fail to recognise a set pattern emerging out of the cases. In this particular police station several children and women were reported missing in a span of time and yet they failed to recognise that most of them were being killed and exploited in a single house. In this particular case, a committee was set up by MWCD , Government of India and also by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to study and analyse the case.
Post the Nithari episode, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) set up a panel to examine the cases of missing children across the country. The NHRC panel provided to the nation a well set out roadmap for combating cases of missing persons.
In 2009, the MWCD under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme recognised the need of a portal and a network to be created for tracing missing children by including the same in the ICPS policy document. It took the Ministry almost four years to announce the creation of the missing children portal.
In 2010, the Delhi High Court ordered detailed guidelines for Delhi Police. Among the various guidelines it was mentioned that the Police have to register FIR in all cases of missing children.
In 2011, the Ministry of Home Affairs published a detailed Advisory to all states for taking steps for tabulating each and every missing case and also the various ways and methods the police can recover these cases. The Advisory recognised the fact that trafficking in human beings was an organised crime and the response to the same should also be organised. The Ministry of Home Affairs advisory was again a well researched document and resulted from a series of zonal workshops held across the country.
In the period 2007-2012, Delhi Police collaborated with other neighbouring states to set up the zip net network. West Bengal Police also initiated a missing person portal which has also been able to very carefully profile each and every missing case reported in west Bengal.
With the ratification of the UN Trafficking Protocol and India accepting the UN definition of human trafficking and also the organised nature of the trafficking syndicates it is now imperative that the Government of India should come out with a response plan for tracing missing persons . The National Portal is of course needed but the same should be supplemented by a very strong infrastructure and communication network with the technology for fast collection and dissemination of information. It also calls for convergence among all stakeholders so that fast and quick action can be taken across the country and even abroad without loss of time.It also requires profiling of traffickers and the organised crime racketeers. All the enforcement agencies along the travel routes taken by traffickers should be well connected.
The Government of India has taken steps to create machinery and institutional mechanism across the country with the roll out of Integrated Child Protection Scheme and the Integrated Human trafficking Units. In both these schemes NGOs and Civil Society is an integral part of the system. Now the time has come to create a robust technological system for profiling, publishing and disseminating information as fast as possible among all stakeholders and also a synergy and convergence among all agencies.
 On December 2006, two Nithari residents claimed they knew the location of remains belonging to children who had gone missing in the previous two years: the municipal water tank behind house D5 in Noida Uttar Pradesh. Both had daughters who had disappeared, and they suspected Surender Koli, the domestic help at D5, had something to do with the disappearances. The residents claimed they had been repeatedly ignored by local authorities; therefore they sought the help of former Resident Welfare Association (RWA) President S C Mishra. That morning, Mishra and the two residents searched the tank drain, and one of the residents claimed to have found a decomposed hand, after which they called the police. Anxious parents of the missing children rushed to Nithari with photographs. Koli, under the alias Satish, later confessed to killing six children and a 20-year-old girl known as “Payal” after sexually assaulting them.