More than 75% of the children recently rescued by the state police were from Jharkhand, a hub of inter-state child trafficking, and a majority of them were not on the cops’ missing list, according to police’s Operation Muskan-II figures.
Anti-human trafficking activist Baijnath Kumar said this showed how reluctantly the police pursued the missing child cases as many of the rescued children were not on their list. “They are just not serious about missing children. Barring a few, still many policemen in rural areas do not want to lodge FIRs in child-related cases,” he said.
At least 249 were rescued during the operation, which was launched in the end of December by the police with a list of 464 missing children. The operation was carried out by 10 teams comprising about 100 policemen. Out of the rescued, 188 were found working in factories and garages within the state.
According to figures with the state police, more than 1000 Jharkhand children have been reported missing since 2000. But, nobody knows how many have been rescued so far, the activists said.
Member of the state child labour commission Sanjay Mishra said, “The police are rescuing children, but not fining the employers or taking any actions against them…this itself shows the lack of awareness (and interest).”
The Jharkhand police had launched Operation Muskan-I in 2015, first in April and second in July and had rescued about 248 children then.
Inspector general (Organized Crime) Sampat Meena admitted the fact and said it was possible that the children were not properly searched in the past.
She said that only “some of the rescued children during the operations were found in the police record of missing children here…there was a lack of awareness and sensitivity among policemen at the ground level, which is gradually changing.”
However, she said that things were moving in a positive direction after the policemen were sensitised about the child rights and the importance handling the cases related to the missing children.