'Operation Smile' which as launched in a big way aims at rescuing and rehabilitating children who are forced to beg. What is worse is that among the 200 odd children rescued yesterday, 25 were infants.
Harishekaran who has embarked on this long, tough and noble mission says that the job ahead is a tough one. We will continue with this drive and ensure that no child in Bengaluru city begs, he says to OneIndia.
Explaining the modus operandi:
Harishekaran says that the least number of children found begging are locals. Most of them have been brought from Bihar and Rajasthan. Most of the children are forced to beg and we are also looking into the aspect of possible human trafficking he also says.
The biggest gang found to be behind this racket is from Rajasthan and this drive will continue until no child begs in the city, he also says. It has been found that in many cases there are children who are forced to beg.
In the case of infants, a drug is mixed into their milk and they are fed in the morning. This way the child goes to sleep and when the person is begging with the child there is no disturbance.
In most of the cases, we have found that it is either the mother or a member of the family who carries the child. The child is drugged so that it does not wake up and cry when these people are begging, the officer also explains.
Rescue and rehabilitation:
The officer explains that the operation works in two phases. The first part of Operation Smile would be to identify and rescue the children. However, the job does not end there. We do not want these children to come back to the streets.
With the help of the social welfare department, we will ensure that all these children are rehabilitated. We want to ensure that these children have a better future and they should not come back to the streets and beg.
The rescued children will be taken to the Bala Mandirs which is run by the state government where they will be rehabilitated. The meaning of Operation Smile means putting the smile back on the faces of these children, Harishekaran also informed.
Operation Smile will continue:
In yesterdays operation, the police managed to arrest 65 women and eight men who were forcing the children to beg, Harisekaran also informed.
We have formed several teams which will visit various places to identify children and rescue them. Threatres, bus stops, railways stations and malls are the primary areas where one would find such children. Traffic signals too are a hot place for these persons to force children to beg.
Harisekaran further explains that the rehabilitation process is extremely important. We will need to investigate each case now. If it has been found that the children forced to beg belong to the mothers, then they would be sent to the Child Welfare Committee.
However, if there are cases of trafficking and it is found that these children were brought in by someone not related then the provisions of the law would apply.
The Operation is an ongoing one, Harisekaran informs while adding that there are around 300 personnel part of the team.
The team includes members of the police force, Child Welfare Department, Child Welfare Committee and members of NGOs, the officer went on to explain.