Operation Smile to rescue children to continue

HYDERABAD: The Cyberabad police on Tuesday stated that though the month-long Operation Smile campaign from January 1 to 31 has ended, the rescue operation will be continued by Child Welfare Officers (CWOs) in their respective police station jurisdiction. Dedicated awareness campaigns will be taken up to educate parents and educational institutions in child safety, it added.

Cyberabad police had launched the Operation Smile campaign from January 1 to 31, to identify, track, locate, rescue and rehabilitate children who were either kidnapped or left home on their own and have been subjected to abuse, exploitation and have been employed as child labourers. To this effect, 11 Task Force Teams were formed and trained on the plan of action by DCP Malkajgiri on January 2.

Commissioner of Police C.V. Anand had nominated 43 Sub-Inspectors as Child Welfare Officers (CWOs) in each Police Station to assist the Task Force in tracing the missing children and to rescue children found abandoned. Rama Rajeshwari, IPS, was appointed nodal officer for the operation.

During the campaign, over 200 children were traced/rescued/rehabilitated as on January 31. Reasons for missing of children varied from poor financial background, elopement, ill-treatment at home and orphans. The rescued children were handed over to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), which in turn referred them to shelter homes till their parents were traced. The children were rescued from Railway platforms, bus stations, roads, religious places and so on.

It was found that most of the runaway children from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh landed in the hands of criminals, who made them to resort to begging, rag-picking and such other activities. Some kids were from States like Bihar, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.

The police drive revealed startling facts. A boy was rescued from clutches of a rowdy-sheeter while many boys were addicted to illicit liquor, habituated to petty offences, girls in early teens were subjected to sexual exploitation and found struggling for livelihood.

Police said the particulars of both missing/identified children were uploaded in www.trackthemissingchild.gov.in of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Verification of all children at registered and unregistered shelter-homes and NGOs was done. Efforts were on to bust gangs involved in trafficking, especially the ones who force children into begging, rag-picking at railway stations, temples, mosques, dargahs, bus-stands and other public places.

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