Berhampur: The police has conducted numerous raids in Ganjam area and rescued as many as 91 child workers employed here, some of them from the dangerous cashew processing units running in the district. According to DSP (crime) Subhash Acharya, “During the several raids conducted at garages, hotel, shops and cashew processing units since Saturday, under Operation Muskan, a total of 80 boys and 11 girls have been rescued, four of them from Bihar. These children fall in the age group of 12 to 17 years.”
Out of the children rescued here, 7 were found in the cashew processing units at Saroda and 6 more at those located in Khallikote and 11 of these children are girls. According to Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, cashew processing units have been categorized as hazardous.
The DSP also stated, “Two cases have been registered against the people running these units. The police have undertaken the investigation of the circumstances under which they had employed these children and whether they were being treated as bonded labourers”.
Currently, the children are under the custody of an NGO called Child line and they would be produced before the child welfare committee (CWC), after which they would be sent to their parents.
Earlier this month, 22 more children had been rescued by a squad of the district level monitoring committee, working at the sugarcane processing and gup-chup making units in the Berhampur district. 20 of these children hailed from Bihar. The members of the squad included chairman of district child welfare committee, district labour officer, district child protection officer, campaigners and police.
“Operation Muskan” has been lauded by Sudhir Sabat, the state convener of Campaign Against Child Labour. He further stated that involvement of agencies like child protection units and voluntary organizations could have made such operations more successful.