Op Muskaan: Gurgaon police commissioner says will look into lapses
A day after HT exposed how Gurgaon police fudged records to inflate numbers of the children rescued under Operation Muskaan in 2015-16, the city police commissioner denied any wrongdoing. He, however, admitted that there could be some “lapses” which will be “inquired into”.
Gurgaon police commissioner Sandeep Khirwar also agreed that the police personnel involved in the operation needed special training and should follow the rules rigorously since it involves children.
In an investigation published on Friday, Hindustan Times reported that Gurgaon police were allegedly inflating figures to meet targets and earn plaudits through Operation Muskaan, a nationwide programme launched last year to rescue missing children.
Police records say they rescued 1,057 children in July last year. When HT made a random check of 27 addresses of “rescued” children this September and October, all of these turned out to be fake entries.
Khirwar also defended himself, saying he was not at the helm when the ‘rescue act’ took place.
Reacting to the HT story, a child rights activist called for a detailed inquiry into the matter. “We have repeatedly requested the authorities to probe the case of each child rescued and produced before the competent authorities. In the last 16 years of the Juvenile Justice Act (since its inception in 2000) this has been ignored,” said Arijit Adhikary, a child rights activist.
The police commissioner said Operation Muskaan was a “success” and all rules were followed. He said the cases reported may have caused due to “difference in perception”. “There may be lapses, if any, that can be inquired into,” Khirwar said.
He also denied that targets were set and the police officers were under pressure to rescue more children. He said the police teams involved in the operation were “encouraged to use the opportunity to rescue and rehabilitate children in apparent need of care and protection of the law”.
“We have dedicated juvenile police units. We will continue training to carry the process forward,” he said.
Adhikary said that the government agencies were not willing to learn and change. Referring to an RTI query, he said the Gurgaon police did not have record of 37 children rescued from brick kilns under Operation Muskaan-I (July 1-31, 2015).