Operation Muskan', may help in the rehabilitation of street children, but at the same time, it unearths sordid tales, as most of the children rescued under the operation are found hooked to drugs and are addicted to substance abuse.
Launching the operation, following instructions from the union ministry of women and child development, Patiala district administration rescued 19 homeless children from the railway station and the local bus stand on Wednesday.
Most the children rescued are between 7-10 years of age, but shockingly, they are more addicted to sniffing drugs, the majority of which are easily available in the market.
Most of the rescued children are beggars or child labourers.
Aware of the menace of the addiction, inspecting teams led by the district child welfare officer (DCWO) Shaina Kapoor, along with police officials, confiscated the whiteners - the ink used for erasing ink on paper and other substance tubes, which keep these street children high on drugs throughout the day.
Indeed, the administration immediately shifted the rescued children to Sanaur in an ashram (shelter home). Efforts were also continuing to trace their families.
"We found it very strange that these children never go to schools, but they were found to be in possession of whiteners to erase ink and are aware of how to use these as mind-numbing drugs," said an official, who was part of the touring party.
Many of the rescued children briefed Patiala deputy commissioner Indu Malhotra on how they became addicted to fluids.
"We used to sniff the fluid, easily available at shops in the morning and then went to work on the roads. Whenever, we failed to find food for ourselves, we took another dose and went to sleep," was the comment, one heard from most of those rescued.
"With most street children addicted to fluids and other substances, the victims will be admitted to the Saket Hospital for a de-addiction programme and proper rehabilitation, before shifting them to permanent government homes," said DCWO Kapoor, adding that most of the children did not have a clue on their parents and families.
"If their parents could not be traced, the girls will be shifted to Nari Niketan in Jalandhar, while boys will be admitted to the Government Children's Home," she added, claiming that over the past week, eight children had been reunited with their families.
"It is the police's duty to investigate whether these children had been made part of a racket or illegal activity of any kind," she added.
The DC added that the condition of the rescued children was pitiable and all efforts would be made to rehabilitate these children. The operation will continue till July 31.