VIJAYAWADA: As many as 34,037 children were rescued in 13 districts in the state during the four phases of Operation Muskan. Of them 83.4 per cent are boys and 16.60 per cent girls. They were found working in shops, tea stalls, mechanic sheds, dhabas and as coolies. NGOs have urged the government for strict implementation of law to eradicate child labour.
According to reports, 4,035 children were rescued in during Operation Muskan-I on January 4, 2020, 4,806 in the second phase on July 20, 2020, 16,457 in the third phase on November 3, 2020, and 8,739 in the fourth phase on May 19 this year. Among the rescued children 61.57% studied Class X, 26.26% had education between classes 1 and 5 and the remaining 12.33% were illiterates.
A majority of 51.55% children were found working as coolies, 33.71% in chilli farmlands, 12.2% were street children, 1.95% rag-pickers and 0.6% beggars. The children were working in shops, tea stalls, motor mechanic sheds, dhabas and hotels.
Poverty was the main reason which was forcing children to become coolies and workers. As many as 68.16% children among the rescued had to work so as to look after their families. Bad habits, addictions and social backwardness were other causes for the remaining children to indulge in labour.
The children in the age group of 11-15 years are 76.035% among the rescued and it shows teenagers are increasingly being forced to double as workers due to various reasons. As many as 21.43% children are between 6-10 years of age and the rest of children are below 5 years of age.
A majority of children rescued were from Backward Communities. BCs accounted for 44.54 per cent, Muslims 18.08 per cent, SCs 15.7 per cent, STs 12.613 per cent and the rest of 9.08 per cent belonged to OCs.
DGP Gautam Sawang said that the police department decided to develop a web application to monitor the welfare of rescued children and wean them away from labour. He said the police department was keeping tabs on the places where child labour is on the rise. They would conduct awareness programmes to eliminate child labour with the cooperation of labour, education, medical, health, revenue, women & child welfare departments, NGOs and child welfare committees.