Social media is lethal because it is driven by common people like us. From the IAC movement to Narendra Modi’s election campaigning, we have witnessed numerous examples in the last few years in India to restore our faith on the medium. The recent rescue of the three old Jhanvi Ahuja, the only child of her parents who had been missing from 28th September, is one more story to make us believe in the power of social media.
Until last week the three-year old girl from the capital was like any other girl but her disappearance from India Gate last week made her one of the most shared visuals on social media.
With October being a month of festivity and fun, Jhanvi’s family decided to join the residents of their street on the lawns of India Gate. As stated by IE, 11 families from Raghubir Nagar and Faridabad planned a picnic to Hanuman Mandir at Connaught Place followed by a visit to Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. Later, they planned a visit to India Gate before heading home. “She was with us throughout. It took only two minutes for us to be distracted and she was gone,” Jahnvi’s aunt Pooja said.
Thereafter started the massive hunt by her family and the Delhi Police. Speaking to Firstpost, Jhanvi’s uncle Ravi Ahuja shared that after 48 hours of intense search in and around India Gate went in vain, the family initiated a campaign on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp; pasted and distributed posters carrying Jhanvi’s photo and contact numbers.
Amrinder Singh Zindagi Charitable Trust, created a Facebook page on 3rd October – ‘Bring Back Jhanvi’. The Facebook page which has gained more than 1.5 likes has been constantly updating beginning with the girl’s disappearance to major updates on the hunt. Twitter saw influencers, politicians and believers of the medium spreading the word.
Along with Facebook and Twitter, WhatsApp the messaging app was extensively used in getting the word out. Talking to NDTV, Tarun Grover, her mother’s brother shared that close to 1 lakh messages were sent to people to help find the girl. “We decided to go for the paid campaigns on Facebook and WhatsApp. So just as people get messages about homes and plots, 1 lakh WhatsApp users would get messages about Jhanvi.”
All the pictures that were circulated on social networks carried the missing message and that if found, her father Rakesh Ahuja should be contacted on the mobile number given alongside.
— Mahendra Soni (@sonigroup) October 2, 2014
— QueenBee ♕ (@vaidehisachin) October 5, 2014
— BJP-Vaibhav Aggarwal (@thevaibhavag) October 5, 2014
Explaining how the entire family worked on bringing back the girl, Tarun said, “We are 10 siblings and we divided up the work. One handled the political aspect – visiting the Home Minister or anyone who could help us. One coordinated with the police and so on.” With Jhanvi’s photo flashing on all social networks, the same started to happen on prominent news channels too. The family and the supporters further did a door to door campaign to keep the pressure on the police officials.
While Jhanvi’s disappearance was talked about on social media, print and TV, Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi on 5th October announced a cash reward of Rs 50,000 for anyone who helps in tracing her. By now the Crime Branch and Special Cell were also working on the case.
Finally, to everyone’s respite the girl was found on 5th October Sunday night walking about alone in Lajwanti Garden, Janakpuri, in West Delhi. After identification, the police handed over the girl to her parents. The mystery behind her kidnapping and her recovery is still to be cracked by the police.
As of now the police have informed that they received a call around 8 pm from a local in Lajwanti Park, about a small girl wandering near a park in D block. The caller reportedly said the girl had a placard around her neck with her name, her father’s number and the fact that she had gone missing from India Gate written on it by hand. The police suspect the kidnapping to be the work of a childless couple but investigations are still on.
For now Jhanvi is one lucky child to be united with her parents. Thanking the police, media and people in general who spared their time to search his daughter, Jhanvi’s father Rakesh Ahuja said, “It was the collective effort that brought back happiness in our life.”
Stating it as a collective effort, Additional Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) SBS Tyagi also appreciated campaigns on social networks. “Collective effort made the police, media and campaigns on social networks appears to have resulted in the safe recovery of the child as nobody in the national capital knew who Jhanvi was and how she looked like.”
Around 14 children go missing everyday from the national capital. Considering these numbers it is a commendable effort from the girl’s family, police and the various social media campaigns supported by numerous unknown faces. This massive social media campaign caused her kidnappers to panic and eventually abandon her, thinks the police.
Social media if used for good can help the common man in various ways and Jhanvi’s story is one of them. By the way, another kid from Noida, Abhinav is missing. Do spread the message and help find him.
Image credit: Indian Express