At least 730 kids lost in Varanasi have been reunited with their families since 2022. This could have been possible with Mission Muskaan, supervised by IAS Himanshu Nagpal.

During a field visit, he came across a few children begging at a circle. He found out that these children were living under the flyover and were not from the city.

“Thousands of tourists visit Kashi city every day. At times, children coming along with their parents are lost, and then they have to turn to begging to fend for themselves,” he points out.

“We found many such children at railway stations, temples, and the ghats. A lot of these children were from other districts and states like Telangana, Karnataka, Assam, and even Nepal,” he adds.

The IAS officer pledged to reunite these children with their families so they could leave the life of drudgery.

Along with 12 teams comprising 60 officers from departments such as Child Development, Anti-Human Trafficking, and the police, he started identifying and rescuing children.

The children in the age group of 5 to 18 years are given shelter at child welfare homes till they are reunited with their families.

“Some of these children are intellectually disabled. So it takes time to understand where they come from and who their parents are. This is when we seek help from psychologists, who assist them so that we can track their locations,” he says.

Once psychologists are able to get the required information, photos of the children are circulated in the local police stations and after identifying the village, they are reunited with their families.

Departmental officials are deployed to accompany the children and to safely take them to their homes. A “happy” picture of reunited families along with the officials is clicked to maintain a record.

“Thereafter, we follow up on all the cases. We regularly video or audio call the families to ensure the children are safe. We talk to the children as well,” says the IAS officer.

The IAS officer feels that this work is also part of his duty. “If we are unable to reunite these children with their families, then I do not think we are doing a good job.”

“There have been moments when we see families crying with happiness when their kids reach home. Looking at their smiles makes your day,” he says.