‘Operation Muskaan’ is a Government of India’s undertaking to rescue street children from child labour and provide them with safer living facilities. The Andhra Pradesh state government had successfully undertaken the mission previously, in phases. In the latest, the Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Gautam Sawang flagged off the sixth phase of Operation Muskaan from Vijayawada. The current phase, named ‘Operation Muskan C19’ will go on for a week, starting from 14 July 2020, ending on 20 July 2020. As part of the rescue operation, orphaned street children and children currently in the clutches of child labour will be rescued by the AP Police.
— AP Police (@APPOLICE100) July 14, 2020
Flagging off the operation, DGP Gautam Sawang ordered that all the rescued children must undergo COVID-19 tests. Speaking about the operation, the top police officer said, “Operation Muskaan is a programme undertaken by the Government of India to rescue and rehabilitate street children. As part of Operation Muskaan C19 flagged off today, we will be rescuing children on the streets, children who are lost and those in captive employment. All of these children rescued over a period of one week will be taken in for COVID-19 tests.”
In November 2019, the AP Police rescued nearly 2,774 missing children as part of Operation Muskaan. They were sent back to their parents or to state-sponsored child welfare centres. The operation was carried out under DGP Sawang’s leadership, where 794 police search teams were formed to conduct the rescue operations. The AP Police, in collaboration with District Child Protection departments, Child Welfare Committee (CWC), and NGOs was able to rescue children from various locations including parks, railway stations, hotels, bus stops stranded across Andhra Pradesh. After the children were returned, the AP Police conducted counselling sessions for their parents.