A total of 3,470 children in the state have been rescued in the past one month under Operation Muskaan, data released by the Telangana police said. Under phase five of the operation conducted in July, 72% of the children were rescued from bonded labour and 847 children who were rescued belonged to Hyderabad.
Operation Muskaan is conducted in two phases every year – each lasting for a month in January and July. The operation is conducted jointly by the police, the Telangana Women and Child Department, Labour Department and others. The operation commenced in the year 2015 and aims to rescue and rehabilitate missing and abandoned children found across the state.
Out of the number of children rescued every year, a majority of them are rescued from bonded labour. This year alone, 2,508 children were found engaged in different forms of labour, 422 children were picked from the streets, 139 were found begging, 29 were missing children, some found at railway platforms and few rescued from child marriages as well.
While 80% of the rescued children belonged to Telangana, others belonged to Bihar, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
In Hyderabad alone, 445 children were rescued, out of which 407 are boys and 38 are girls. 51 boys were sent to a rescue home at Saidabad and 13 girls were sent to a rescue home at Nimboliadda. 356 boys and 25 girls were handed over to their parents. A total of 847 children were rescued from the city this year, including the 429 children rescued in January.
According to police officials who held a press meet on Wednesday, in 431 cases, employers of child labours were fined Rs 18,70,000 and cases were registered against seven of them.
Special efforts have been made by the rescue teams this year to ensure that the rescued children do not go back to work. After counselling parents and in coordination with other stakeholders, a total of 31 children have been admitted into residential or other schools in Hyderabad and they have also been provided with school bags, books and other stationery.
Till July, this year has seen the third-highest number of children rescued in the state, the highest being in 2016 (4,619) followed by 4,033 children rescued in 2017.