Cyberabad police in a unique month-long campaign `Operation Smile, rescued as many as 209 during the month of January. The campaign aimed 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. Most of them were rescued from railway platforms, bus stations, roads, religious places etc.
Police officials maintained that though the campaign has come to an end, the rescue operation will be continued by the Child Welfare Officers (CWOs) in their respective police station jurisdictions. Dedicated awareness campaigns will be taken up to educate parents and educational institutions about child safety. This was in addition to the ongoing efforts to ensure proper rehabilitation of children in coordination with agencies concerned.
They said that particulars of both missing/identified children have been uploaded in the 'Missing Child' portal of the ministry of women and child development by the respective divisional police after the operation (www.trackthemissingchild.gov.in).
Verification of all children at registered and unregistered shelter-homes and NGOs have been done. De-addiction for rescued children who were found to be addictive has also been done.
They said that gangs involved in trafficking, especially the ones who force children into begging, rag-picking at railway stations, big temples, mosques, dargahs, bus-stands, etc will be brought to justice.
The campaign also revealed startling facts about missing children wherein the teams had rescued a boy from the clutches of a rowdy-sheeter, found many boys addicted to illicit liquor, habituated to petty offences, girls in early teens have eloped and subjected to sexual exploitation at a very young age and found struggling for livelihood.
Police officials said that most of the children were from economically weaker sections of the society and they left their homes primarily because of temporary discontentment with their parents or ill- treatment meted out to them.
Most of these kids were from districts of Telangana and AP. Some were from northern states like Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. Special teams will be formed to go to these states to trace their parents.