In the second phase of Operation Smile, the police rescued 51 children in the first week of January.
According to officials, the maximum number of rescued children were working as child labourers. The police and the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) said of the 51 children rescued, 15 were reported missing. The others were working as labourers and their families knew their whereabouts. The officials found that 36 boys were employed as cleaners or sweepers in small restaurants or hotels in the city.
“The maximum number of cases that the CWC deals with is of children working as labourers at different places. In most of the cases, the parents know that their child is employed. However, because of the family’s poor financial situation, they have no choice but to let them earn whatever little they can,” said Kuldeep Yadav, protection officer, CWC, Gurgaon.
The CWC officials also said only four of the rescued children belonged to Haryana. The other 47 were from different states, mainly Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Of the 15 missing children, 12 were boys. These children said they had been separated from their families and had no idea how to return home.
“Some of them were rescued from railway stations or were found begging on roads. With the help of the police and several NGOs, most of the children have been reunited with their families. Some have been shifted to shelter homes. We provide them basic education at these shelter homes,” Yadav said.
The officials also counselled 48 of the rescued children before handing them over to parents. Only 14 children were shifted to foster homes. “We have been able to rescue and trace parents of most of the children. We have also urged residents to cooperate with the officials and inform the nearest police station or call 1098 to report cases of child labour,” Yadav said.