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How children are lured away in Delhi: Foiling a kidnapping

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New Delhi: But for the alertness of a battery-rickshaw driver, two small boys of a residential society in Dwarka, in west Delhi, would have been kidnapped last week. In a worrying account of how easily child kidnappers are able to strike, two boys, aged seven and nine, were being quietly whisked away by a young man who had won their confidence over the period of a week of sitting and observing them in the playground in Dwarka’s Sector 22.

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The kidnapper, who was thrashed by residents of DDA-SFS Flats and handed over to police last Thursday, had entered the colony posing as a driver of one of the house owners. He would sit in the bench and observe the children as they played. When questioned, he coolly showed a pair of car keys and cited the flat number of his “employer”. All the information seemed proper. And all the while he was eyeing the playing children. He picked out two of the children for the kidnap.

On Thursday evening, he approached the two boys with promise of treating them to ice cream and they willingly went with him outside, having seen and chatted with him over the week. He had become familiar to them like other friendly drivers or domestic helps who sit around the park.

The young man took the boys to a nearby Mother Diary milk booth, just a few meters away, to treat them to ice cream, after which he hailed a battery rickshaw in order to “drop them back home”. But he told the rickshaw driver to go towards the metro station. It is here that Karamveer Singh, the rickshaw driver, noticed something wrong. “The two boys seemed scared,” Singh told IANS later. “The man was telling them, come fast, your papa is waiting for you’.”

The kidnapper alighted at a red light along with the children and said he preferred to walk it. Karamveer then drove up to him and asked where he was taking the children.”The kidnapper told me to mind my own business. I said if the children’s papa has asked you to take them to the Metro then show me your phone. But his phone was switched off, adding to my suspicions.”

“He told me; “Bhaiya, the father of one boys is coming to fetch them’. I asked the nine year old to give me his father’s number and I called him. All through I kept a firm grip on the hand of the man.”When I called the father, he was shocked, and said he had never made such a call. He was in Gurgaon at the time.”

“I hailed another battery rickshaw, sat along with the two kids, and got the man to sit in front of me, holding tightly on to his hand. I had checked his pocket and found an ustara (long blade for shaving), with which he had scared the children into coming with him,” said Karamveer. “I took them to Sector 22 and after I reached their society, I beat him soundly. The father and sister of the seven-year-old were at the gate, waiting anxiously for the boy to return. They did not know where he had gone,” he said.

Karamveer was rewarded by the grateful residents of the housing society at a function on Independence Day and given a token amount as reward. Delhi Police said it is planning to give Karamveer a recommendation for his alertness and bravery and also present him with a cash reward.

“We are in coordination with the RWA of the area and planning to provide some cash reward to Karamveer for his brave act. He and some others like him will be rewarded soon,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, R.A. Sanjeev. He said the accused, Manish Rajput, 23, had been sent to Tihar Jail.

In his interrogation before police, Rajput mentioned that he had managed to get a driving license and wanted to work as a driver.Though the two boys were fortunate in being saved by the alert Karamveer, there are many other children not so lucky.

As per data compiled by Delhi Police, a total of 8,739 children went missing in the national capital in the last one year. A total of 5,307 were recovered by police, while 2,197 are still missing. The remaining 3,110 children were recovered by child welfare agencies, including NGOs.

Police data says that most of the trafficked children aged between 1-3 years are sold to childless couples while others are forced into the sex trade and as servants in homes or labor in factories. “Some of the children are kidnapped for ransom, while a few aged between 9-15 left their houses on their own due to some family issues or in search of job,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch), Ravindra Yadav.

Yadav said that Delhi Police has been running “Operation Milap”, a drive launched in 2014 by their Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, to reunite missing children with their families.

(IANS)

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Number Of Uninsured Children In The U.S. Rises to 3.9 Mn: Report

The report also expressed concern that strict immigration policies and enforcement were making many immigrant families leery of enrolling.

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Uninsured Children, U.S.
Abigail Gabriel, 8, hugs her mother, Erin, as a Pennsylvania Department of Human Services official talks about the Children's Health Insurance Program, CHIP, during a news conference, Dec. 7, 2017, in Pittsburgh. Abigail had health care under Medicaid. VOA

The number of uninsured children in the United States has increased for the first time in nearly a decade, placing it at 3.9 million in 2017, according to a report Thursday from Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.

Nationally, the number of uninsured children increased by an estimated 276,000 in 2017, from a historic low of 4.7 percent in 2016 to 5 percent last year. Experts say about 75 percent of the newly uninsured children are clustered in states that did not expand Medicaid such as Florida, Texas and Georgia.

Under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Florida and other states could take federal funding to help pay for health coverage for nearly 900,000 people, but the Republican-led Legislature in Florida voted against it. The vast majority of states have already expanded Medicaid and increased the number of residents eligible for its coverage.

Joan Alker, executive director for Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families, has written the report for the last eight years and said she’s never seen the rates of uninsured children go up in all 50 states, which happened last year.

Probiotics, Uninsured
Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the country.

Better economy, low unemployment

She said that what is perhaps most concerning is that the uninsured rate among children increased despite an improving economy and low unemployment rate that allowed more children to get private coverage through their parents.

The study blamed the increases on the Trump administration’s repeated attempts to prompt an overhaul of publicly funded health care. There were major efforts to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid, and the children’s CHIP insurance funding also ran out and hung in the balance for months before Congress extended it.

“There was a lot of confusion among families as to whether these public coverage sources were available,” Alker said.

At the same time, the Trump administration slashed funding for advertising and enrollment counselors to help sign people up for these health insurance programs. The country’s enrollment decline was not just in Medicaid and CHIP, but also in Obamacare, or the federal marketplace where parents can purchase private health insurance and often receive a subsidy to help pay for it.

The report noted that many of the children who do not have health insurance are eligible for coverage but just aren’t enrolled.

Central American Migrants, democratic party,Uninsured
Central American migrants begin their morning trek as part of a thousands-strong caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, as they face the Pico de Orizaba volcano upon departure from Cordoba, Mexico, Monday. VOA

‘More of a fluctuation’

Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said the figures were statistically insignificant.

He did agree that there were dips in Medicaid enrollment and through the Obamacare marketplace, but noted there’s no enrollment cutoff for Medicaid, meaning families can sign up their children year-round.

“It’s really more of a fluctuation. There’s no policy driver there,” he said, saying he didn’t think marketing cuts had any impact.

In Florida, the uninsured rate went from 288,000 in 2016 to 325,000 in 2017.

Refugees, asylum, uNINSURED
Honduran migrant Genesis Belen Mejia Flores, 7, waves an American flag at U.S. border control helicopters flying overhead near the Benito Juarez Sports Center serving as a temporary shelter for Central American migrants, in Tijuana, Mexico. VOA

Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the country, and also has had the highest number of enrollees purchasing insurance through the Obamacare federal marketplace. However, Medicaid expansion in Florida is likely off the table for this upcoming legislative session. Incoming Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is against it. His opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, campaigned heavily on his support to expand Medicaid coverage for more residents.

Also Read: Produce Industry In The U.S. To Step Up Produce Safety Due To Recent Outbreaks

The report also expressed concern that strict immigration policies and enforcement were making many immigrant families leery of enrolling, even if their children were eligible for health coverage. “We think it’s really this national unwelcome mat regarding public coverage,” Alker said. (VOA)