For a moment, let us forget about the never-ending debate on the pros and cons of making Aadhaar mandatory, all for the sake of Sonu Khan, a mentally challenged teenager from Jaipur who was reunited with his mother after two years as a result of the Aadhaar drive.
A few days ago, there was an Aadhaar-enrolment drive that took place at a home for mentally retarded children at Hosur Road, Bengaluru. While officials were collecting the biometric details of the boys in the home, they noticed something strange — Sonu’s biometrics couldn’t be registered as the database showed them as already being in the system.
Something similar had happened last year too, which was why the process was delayed for him. Surprised officials probed further to find out that Sonu was, in fact, a resident of Karni Vihar in Jaipur, from where he had gone missing two years previously. His mother, Mehrunnisa, a vegetable vendor in Jaipur, was elated to hear the news. Talking about her struggle to find her son to the Deccan Herald, Mehrunnissa said,
"When I received a phone call and his photo on WhatsApp from the children's home it was like a dream come true. I had lost all hopes of finding my son but I used to pray every day for his good health and safety. I couldn't stop crying. I still remember that day when I lost him on Ajmer Road highway and since then I kept searching for him everywhere."
She came to Bengaluru with a police officer from Jaipur and took her son back home. However, it is not clear as to how Sonu, who went missing in Jaipur, ended up thousands of kilometres away in Bengaluru.
On an average, 180 children go missing every day and in most cases, the trail goes cold and the children are never found. The number of untraced children in 2015 was an alarming 62,988 and has been rising constantly in the past few years.
Speaking with The Times of India, Director of CRY, Komal Ganotra, said,
"While we know missing children are often led to be a part of organised crimes, illegal child labour and trafficking, there needs to be a differential structure of investigation to track them...The major reason why children are trafficked from West Bengal is different from Delhi. A comprehensive database of children is yet to see the light of day.”
While so many parents spend their lives without knowing if they will ever hear about their children's whereabouts, one child found and reunited with his mother makes a huge difference.