What began with a heartwarming report by the Ghaziabad Police in end-2014 on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh's desk is about to get a sequel of sorts. Heartened by the Ghaziabad cops' recovery of 227 missing children in a span of 30 days, Rajnath had urged all states and Union Territories (UTs) to emulate the move, naming it "Operation Smile".
With more than 9,000 children rescued and rehabilitated, the home minister has now told all states and UTs to now conduct "Operation Smile II" from 1-31 January, 2016.
To this effect, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi has written to the chief secretaries of all states and UTs for whole-hearted participation in the move.
An official statement from the Union Home Ministry has said various activities will be undertaken as part of "Operation Smile II".
All children residing in places like shelter homes, platforms, bus stands, roads and religious precincts are to be screened by trained police personnel.
Police personnel from each state are also to be properly trained before 1 January, 2016, on how to extract information from such children tactfully.
They will also be imparted knowledge on various provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, Protection of Child Right Act, relevant sections of the CrPC & IPC and Advisories issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Information about Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) will be prepared and shared among all rescue teams and stakeholders.
During the operation, the particulars of such identified children will be uploaded on the 'Missing child' portal of the Ministry of Women and Child Development by the respective state police, said the Home Ministry statement.
Following the success of "Operation Smile" in January 2015, a similar campaign — "Operation Muskaan" was launched in July 2015 throughout the country.
The statement has said the states and UTs have so far reported that 9,146 children under "Operation Smile" and 19,742 children under "Operation Muskaan" have been rescued and/or rehabilitated.
Some of these children were reportedly forced into prostitution and bonded labour before being rescued and reunited with their parents.
The Home Ministry statement, released on Monday, 14 December, also said Rajnath had rewarded 44 police officers from different states and UTs at the National Conference on Anti Human Trafficking in New Delhi on 7 October, 2015, for their role during "Operation Smile", a move seen as a possible motivation for their fellow cops to emulate their actions.