27 Nov 2013 13:39
He almost ran after her. He followed her through the alleys of East Delhi, stopping as she stopped, angling to catch a glimpse of her face. “Maybe it is my lost daughter,” Azhar Mohammad recalls thinking when he saw the teenage girl, her hair braided and two red ribbons tied.
“There is no closure,” he says wiping tears. His daughter has been missing for five years. He remembers every detail of that day when she did not come home from school. The family searched every corner of the government school, hoping she was locked in a toilet. They met all her friends and asked a thousand questions, he says. Mohammad’s oldest son selected the best photograph of Gudiya from their battered family album and made 125 copies.
“The police said she ran away. But where will an 11 year old, cheerful girl go?” he asks, He says his hair grayed in a week, the fateful week when the family spent all their savings to look for Gudiya. No news came that night. Nor later. Even after five years, Mohammad still believes his daughter will come home someday. “Till then all I pray is wherever she is, she should be happy and well taken care of.”
Mohammad is not alone. In India eleven children go missing every hour and seven are never found.
Often children rescued in one state could be missing in another. But there is no centralized database to connect them.