Launched in 2014, Operation Muskaan was an initiative led by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to rescue and rehabilitate missing children.
Employing trained police personnel to trace and rescue missing/runaway children, it discovered that railway stations were one of the prime locations where the kids were often found.
In fact, between the years 2014 and 2016, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) managed to rescue 20,931 children found across the railway network in the country, out of which 1,317 (944 boys, 373 girls) were victims of trafficking.
This year, the number has only risen, with 7,126 children having been rescued by the RPF, including 185 (124 boys, 61 girls) trafficked children.
Taking a cue from the rising number of children being rescued from railway premises, Indian Railways is extending the reach of the rescue operation by covering some of the busiest stations in the country.
According to Edex Live, 47 additional stations will now fall under the radar of Operation Muskaan, tallying to a total of 82 stations. Of these, 75 stations fall under the ‘A1’ category.
Reportedly, close to 20-25 children are rescued on a daily basis from trains and railway premises by RPF officials and are handing over to respective parents, relatives, NGOs, child welfare committees or other recognised rehabilitation institutions.
All the designated stations have been equipped with special kiosks and child help desks, which will have RPF personnel and members of NGOs nominated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development round-the-clock on duty.