In a major crackdown, 54 child labourers were rescued from bangle factories in Hyderabad's Balapur area on Saturday by the Rachakonda police, as part of its 'Operation Smile' campaign.
The police said that they conducted raids at six locations where bangles were being manufactured, and rescued the children, all of them boys, aged between 9 and 14 years old.
According to the police, the children were also being given 'salaries', ranging from Rs 1,500 per month, to Rs 2,500 per month.
“All of them were brought from Purnea and Nalanda district in Bihar after striking a deal with their parents,” Balapur Inspector V Saidulu told reporters.
A case has been registered under sections of the Juvenile Justice Act and Child Labour Act. The owners of the brick kiln are absconding and a manhunt has been launched to nab them.
Under Rachakonda Commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat, the police has focused on rehabilitation of child labourers, especially those working in brick kins, mainly at the ouskirts of the city.
Many 'worksite schools' have also been set up, that allow the children of brick kiln workers to get an education.
Worksite schools was an initiative started by the Telangana state government for the benefit of children of migrant labourers working in brick kilns. Most of the labourers working at the brick kiln sites are migrants from Odisha who often push their kids into working at the sites due to lack of schools offering Odiya as the medium of instruction. To bridge the gap, in 2017 the Rachakonda Police along with representatives of brick kiln associations and the Aide et Action NGO launched worksite schools for these children.
The prime motive of 'Operation Smile' is to rescue minor children from various vulnerable positions like begging rackets and child labour. It also aims to trace missing children.
Authorities have also urged vigilant citizens to dial '1098', a helpline run by Childline India Foundation for street children in distress, in case they come across any such cases.