The government said that it took the decision as the children were in a vulnerable position and said that the operation would continue until July 20.

Rescued children lined up for COVID-19 screening in Krishna district Image: Krishna District Police
news COVID19 childcare Thursday, July 16, 2020 - 17:07

As many as 1,193 children were rescued by authorities in Andhra Pradesh in a single day under ‘Operation Muskan’, a Union government scheme that seeks to rescue and rehabilitate missing children in India. Most of these children were rescued from child labour or had been reported missing.

Of the 1,193 children rescued on Tuesday, 1,034 are boys and 159 were girls. Another 21 children, who hailed from other states. 

This time, the operation was aimed not only at rescuing the children but also testing them for coronavirus. Apart from police authorities across the districts, the Crime Investigation Department (CID), Department of Women and Child Welfare, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and civic officials were roped in for the drive along with various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

Test results of three of the children in Vizianagaram and Prakasam districts showed they were coronavirus positive, and they were shifted to a hospital for treatment. Officials said that 158 rescued children were sent to state-run special shelter homes while the remaining were handed over to their respective families after due counselling.

The government said that it took the decision as the children were in a vulnerable position and said that the operation would continue until July 20. 

The CID will shift rescued children to a hospital if they test positive for the virus and accommodate their treatment. Later, the children will be sent back to their parents or guardians. Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) Gautam Sawang instructed officials to admit orphan children in state-run child care and rehabilitation centres and ensure that education is provided.

It was during the stint of DGP Gautam Sawang, who had earlier served as the Commissioner of Police, Vijayawada, that Operation Muskan was conducted in the city thoroughly. After taking over as DGP, he has ensured that the programme is implemented across the state.

Authorities said that around 2,500 children were rescued in the last one year as part of the campaign which was conducted twice, across the state.

As of Thursday, Andhra Pradesh reported a total of 38044 cases of COVID-19, of which 18159 are active. 

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