Over 1,100 children rescued under Operation Smile II

  • Urvashi Dev Rawal, Hindustan Times, Jaipur
  • Updated: Feb 23, 2016 15:40 IST
Besids low labour cost, child labourers are favoured for zari work because of their nimble fingers. (HT File Photo)

The anti-trafficking unit has registered 221 cases and rescued 1,182 child labourers, missing children and bonded child labourers under Operation Smile II in January.

But special courts for speedy trial of child labour cases are yet to come up.

TL Meena, additional director general of police (anti-trafficking cell), said 1,988 children were trafficked, out of which 1,432 children rescued. Of the 1,432 children, 1,182 were rescued under Operation Smile II. “Operation Smile II was launched by the Centre, and the states were asked to carry out the campaign for a month. We have been able to track down a large number of missing children,” Meena told HT.

The government has extended the campaign until March.

SP (anti-human trafficking cell) Gangandeep Singla said 221 FIRs have been filed against those found running the units from which children were rescued. Action will be taken against all those employing child labourers, he said.

Vijay Goyal, coordinator of the One Stop Crisis Management Centre, said trial and prosecution will be a long drawn process. “The need is for special courts to deal with these cases,” Goyal said.

In January 2013, the government had issued a notification directing the district and sessions judges to set up special courts for speedy trial of child labour cases. But no courts have been set-up.

Law minister Rajendra Rathore said the finances for setting up the courts will have to be borne by the government. “We are already facing a resource crunch. But we will try to raise the funds and set up the courts.”

Meanwhile, Singla said his units face staff shortage. “The sanctioned strength of each unit is 10 but the numbers vary,” he said.

The anti-human trafficking cell (AHTC) has four units in Jaipur and one unit each in 42 police districts. While the operation has been successful in rescuing missing children and child labourers, “traffickers” or middlemen often evade the law.

Meena admits that the traffickers are the weak link in the chain. “There are instances when rescued children are again trafficked. We give directions to police to reach the roots of trafficking and trace the middlemen, but this needs better inter-state coordination.”

Meena said police were trained in handling children and apprised about provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, Juvenile Justice Act, Protection of Child Right Act and relevant sections of CrPC and IPC.

The punishment for trafficking ranges from 7 to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment with fine.

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