Bengaluru: It’s not an unusual sight to see children begging on the streets of this city as late as 11 at night, especially during weekends.
Child activists say the trend will increase even more as school vacation starts as many children from the neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh are found begging in the city. Most of them are transported here accompanied by elderly relatives. There are definitely 250-300 children who can be seen begging under the pretext of selling objects like toys and roses across various parts of the city and their activities intensify on weekends and holidays. It is mystifying how despite various government machinery and laws in place, this menace has been rising with every passing day, while the authorities remain mute spectators.
With an aim to liberate Bengaluru from child beggars, ex-chairperson of Child Welfare Committee Meena K Jain along with Anitha Kanaiya from Oasis India, an NGO working for the welfare of children, has started an initiative with the help of some volunteers from ‘Volunteers for a cause,’ another NGO where anybody can WhatsApp a photo or a video of a child beggar they see in the city to 8892839840. There will be efforts made to rehabilitate the child.
So how did this initiative start? Anitha Kanaiya says, “There was a policeman who had been observing a three-year-old boy who was accompanying his so-called ‘father’. The latter is blind and begging near High Ground Police station. He tried calling the district child protection officer (DCPO) and child helpline for three days, but nothing happened. So he finally got the small boy to the police station and filed a complaint.
“The SP informed me about the incident. That was when I shared the incident with Meena and thought of starting this campaign to collect data on such children and help eradicate the menace.”
She adds, “Four years ago there were many joint operations undertaken to rescue children who were found begging. Operation Smile was a major one. But later no follow-up or monitoring was done and so it failed to have the desired impact.”
Meanwhile Meena K Jain points out, “We are trying to put them across to the DCPO and NGO’s who can help in rehabilitating these children. It pains me deeply to see these children who should be at home but who are begging instead as late as 11pm. There has to be some connecting line through which these children are pushed into begging as the moment you try to talk to them, their handlers intervene. I feel Bengaluru should take effective steps to stop child begging and be an example for other cities.”...