Odisha police getting ready for ‘Operation Smile’

Cuttack: The cases of missing children in Odisha have gone up rapidly after the devastating super cyclone in 1999 and by 2005 the state has registered cases of 4821 children who have gone missing.

This figure continued in upward trend and subsequently reports of these children becoming victims of several crimes poured in from all parts of the state, officials said today.

However, after last year’s Supreme Court direction for protection of missing children in the case of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Odisha police have decided to launch a month-long drive called ‘Operation Smile’ in January 2015 to trace all the missing children in the state.

In view of next month’s drive, a state-level training programme for police officers on different child rights Acts was held here at the police headquarters yesterday.

Inaugurated by state DGP Sanjiv Marik, the training programme sensitised police officers about the laws governing the child rights.

The police officers drawn from all the districts of the state were told how to handle the child-related problems and the modalities to be followed during rescue and rehabilitation of missing children.

The Apex Court in its direction last year had stated that all cases of missing children are to be registered as cognizable offence in FIRs and proper investigations are to be made in these cases presuming them to be of a crime of kidnapping or trafficking unless proven otherwise.

The SC had also directed to have a trained police officer as Juvenile Welfare Officer (JWO) in each police station and all complaints of non-cognizable offences pertaining to children are to be investigated after referring them to a magistrate.