The NCRB’s CII reports provide data on registered cases of missing persons as well as the tracing rate (those who have been traced). Data indicates that the rate of missing persons in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and Punjab is lower than the national average. However, the rate of tracing in these states is also below the national average.
Every year, lakhs of people are reported as missing in India, including women and children. In the first part of the story on missing persons in India, we looked at the data provided in the NCRB’s Crime in India (CII) reports which revealed that females constituted around two-thirds of all persons reported as missing in India. Further, children constituted 1 in 5 people reported missing. The data also showed that about 50% of all missing persons in the country were reported as traced. While the first part of the story focused on the gender and age of missing persons reported at the national level, we look at the trends in missing people normalized with population, and the rate of traced persons across states in this second part.
For this story, we use data provided in the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)’s annual CII reports. We also use the annual projected mid-year population for states, as given in the Report of Technical Group on Population Projections (July 2020) National Commission on Population, MoHFW. The datasets are sourced from Dataful, a product of Factly.
15 states account for nearly 9 in 10 cases of reported ‘missing persons’
In the six years between 2016 and 2021 for which data is available, a total of 20.37 lakh persons have been reported missing. Maharashtra registered the greatest number of cases with over 3.46 lakh persons missing followed by West Bengal with 2.62 lakh and Madhya Pradesh with 2.51 lakh persons reported as missing. Most of the missing cases of women are reported from major urban areas like Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Kolkata, and Indore, according to previous analysis by NCRB.
Delhi, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana had also reported more than 1 lakh cases each. Together, the 7 states alone accounted for 13.1 lakh cases or 64% of the cases registered in the country. The top 15 states with the greatest number of cases of missing persons contributed 89% of the cases.
To get a clearer picture of the cases of missing persons registered across states and for meaningful comparison, we have normalized the data by taking into account the projected population for each state. The projected population has been sourced from the report of the Technical Group established by the National Commission on Population (NCP) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) which has generated population forecasts for each of the years 2011-2036. We have calculated the number of cases of missing persons reported per one lakh population based on the projected mid-year population for that year.
Except in 2020, more than 100 persons per lakh population reported missing from Delhi each year
Though Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal are on top of the list in terms of an absolute number of missing cases, Delhi has the highest number of cases of missing persons when normalized for population. Except in 2020, more than 100 persons have been reported missing for every one lakh persons in Delhi in each of the years from 2016 to 2021. This is roughly 4 times the national average. At the All-India level, 22 persons were reported missing per lakh population in 2016 which has increased to 29 in 2021. Apart from Delhi, no other state/UT has reported a three-digit number.
In 4 out of the 6 years, Chandigarh has reported the second highest number of cases per lakh population. States like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, and Chhattisgarh have reported about twice the national average during this period. Meanwhile, in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, this value is close to the national average. The number per lakh population has been less than the national average consistently in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, while Punjab and Assam have reported half the national average. Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand have reported less than 6 cases per lakh population each year. Bihar and the northeastern states of Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Manipur have reported less than 10 cases per lakh population in most years.
Huge variation across states in tracing missing persons
As already mentioned in the previous story, the percentage share of persons traced is calculated as the percentage ratio of the total number of persons traced in the year against the total number of persons missing in that year. That is, the number of persons traced includes even those persons reported missing in previous years and traced in that particular year. The total number of missing persons includes even those persons unrecovered from previous years.
The percentage recovery at the national level has been around 50% in the last five years. That is half the persons reported missing get traced. However, there is stark variation in recovery across states. For instance, the percentage recovery in Punjab has been around 16% in the last 3 years whereas the same in Kerala has been around 86%.
Despite reporting a high number of cases for its population, the percentage recovery in Delhi is only about 40%. It has only declined over the years. In 2021, only about 1 in 3 people that were reported missing were traced. The recovery is lower than the national average in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and Punjab. It should be noted that these are the states where the rate of cases reported is lower than the national average. In Uttar Pradesh, the recovery has improved from 20% to 39% between 2016 and 2021 while it has declined in Bihar and Punjab. The percentage recovery in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh has also been less than 50% while in Gujarat, it has been between half to two-thirds.
On the other side, the recovery is above the national average in the South Indian states. While Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have a recovery of about 60 to 70% in 2021, Telangana and Kerala recorded more than 85% recovery.
Reasons about why people go missing is not recorded by NCRB
NCRB does not record the motive/reason behind why people go missing as the real motive is normally not known and becomes clear only later during the investigation stage when the person is traced. Following the circulation of misinformation earlier, the DGP of Telangana Police had tweeted in 2019 that most of the registered missing cases in the city of Hyderabad were due to people’s individual problems such as family, love affairs, examinations failure, admonition by parents, etc. and that in more than 85% of the cases, the persons have been traced and in the remaining cases, necessary efforts are being undertaken to resolve them swiftly.
Apart from this, in states with low recovery, trafficking could also be a reason behind people going missing. It has to be noted that NCRB’s numbers are based on cases registered with the police and need not reflect the real figures.
The Central government as well as the Supreme Court have given SOPs, directions, and measures to be followed to identify areas where children and women are most vulnerable and take action when children and women go missing at various levels. States also have their own wings and portals to register missing persons.