Eight-year-old Anju (name changed) has passed her class 2 exams with flying colours, with 99.5% marks, all thanks to the “police officer who got her admitted to a school two years ago”. Anju now hopes to become a police officer and rescue other kids like the cop who was part of a campaign to improve the lives of under-privileged children through education.
Since its start under Operation Mukti’ in 2017, police in Uttarakhand have rescued around 2,100 children who were found begging, picking rags or selling odds and ends on streets. These kids were admitted to various government schools and ones run by NGOs. They are now doing well in studies and co-curricular activities. Anju, too, was admitted to a government school in Dehradun in 2021 in class 1 along with two others of her age. “I am thankful to the police officers for giving me an opportunity to study. I want to complete my education and become like them,” said Anju
whose parents are daily-wagers. Inspector Manmohan Negi, who played a big role in Anju’s studies, said her performance proved “how determined she was to do well.” “Our effort is on to ensure more children get education and lead a dignified life,” added Negi.
Like Anju, 13-year-old Vipin, who used to sell flowers in the Khara-Strot area on the banks of the Ganga along with his two brothers, both in their teens, now studies in a government higher secondary school. They were rescued by Tehri Garhwal police four years ago. Vipin, who is in class 8 now, said, “My parents were poor and couldn’t afford to send us to school. We, three (brothers), used to sell flowers to help our parents run the house. If not for the cops, we would have spent our life without education, selling flowers.” An elated Vipin’s father Rajkumar, a daily wager, added, “I can’t say how happy I am today to see my children go to a school.”
Principal of government higher secondary school in Khara-Strot, Sangeet Badoni, is proud of what Vipin has achieved thus far. “Not only is he performing well in studies, he does well in extra-curricular activities too. They have a hunger to learn as they know that education is a blessing for them,” Badoni said. DGP Ashok Kumar, who initiated this unique
‘mission’, said giving alms to kids is never a good idea. “We must give them education instead. Giving them money Will never solve the problem and improve their struggling lives in the long run,” he said. “As part of the campaign, we formed teams in every district police unit to rescue children from the streets and get them enrolled at the nearest possible school after counselling their parents. The initiative has yielded commendable results so far,” said Kumar. The director general of police (DGP) added, “Of the 2,100 kids enrolled in school, about 700 dropped out. Continuing this initiative, our focus is to bring them back to where they should belong now — studies and school.”