VIJAYAWADA: The Andhra Pradesh police have rescued 34,037 children, including child labourers, abandoned ones and street children, under its flagship initiative Operation Muskaan. The police department conducted four week-long drives of Operation Muskaan in 2020 and 2021. In the first phase conducted on April 2020, more than 1,000 teams comprising of police and officials other departments concerned such as Childline, revenue, labour department and Women and child welfare, have rescued 4,035 children and another 4,806 children were rescued in the second phase (July 2020), 16,457 kids in the third phase (November 2020) and 8,739 in the last phase (May 2021) in all the 13 districts across the State.
According to the data released on the World Day Against Child Labour, the State police observed that 83.4 per cent of the rescued children are boys and the rest 16.6 per cent girls. The data revealed that 68.1 per cent of them chose to work as labourers or domestic help due to poverty, 22.74 per cent due to family tradition and social backwardness and 9.025 per cent were forced to end up as labourers as they have no parental care.
The police also conducted an analysis on the nature of the work they are involved in. Majority of the children (both boys and girls accounts to 51 per cent) were daily wage workers, 12 per cent of them are street children, around 2 percent are beggars while the rest 33.71 per cent were working in cashew nut shops, chilli fields, tea shops, motor mechanic shops, hotels, restaurants and roadside dhabas.
Interestingly, more than 61 per cent of the rescued kids have completed education between class 6 to 10 and 26 per cent completed primary schooling between class 1 to 5 while the rest 12 per cent are illiterates.
“We have arranged alternate support to the rescued kids and told their parents not to send their children for work again.
All the children have been enrolled in schools and social welfare hostels and we are monitoring their activities on a regular basis,” said DGP Gautam Sawang. Age-wise analysis of the data shows that the majority of the kids (76 per cent) are aged between 11 to 15. Around 21 per cent of the rescued children are aged between 6 to 10 while a marginal 2 per cent are aged below 5 years. Police also performed Covid-19 tests on around 5,642 (16.6 percent) children of which 66 (1.17 per cent) tested positive. They were isolated and given treatment. “No children rescued under Operation Muskaan succumbed to COVID-19,” the DGP added.