Childline cen­tre reg­is­ters 21 beg­ging cases in two months

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI MUMBAI - Pranab Jy­oti Bhuyan pranab.bhuyan@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The Navi Mum­bai po­lice have long been claim­ing that they are on the verge of making the city beg­gar- free. But, the sta­tis­tics re­ceived from the city’s only childline cen­tre shows a dif­fer­ent sce­nario.

Just within two and a half months, the cen­tre has re­ceived as many as 21 cases of chil­dren beg­ging.

They claim that sev­eral chil­dren are be­ing forced to beg on the city roads by groups run­ning beg­ging rack­ets. The chil­dren are brought in dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cles in the morn­ing and taken back in the evening. How­ever, no such rack­ets have been busted in the city so far.

The min­istry of women and child de­vel­op­ment per­mit­ted a Navi Mum­bai- based NGO, Aarambh, to open the childline cen­tre to work for the wel­fare of such chil­dren. It was started on Septem­ber 24.

If any­one spots a child with some sus­pi­cious peo­ple or be­ing ha­rassed by some­one or loi­ter­ing at a pub­lic place, he or she can call the 24x7 toll- free num­ber 1098. The mem­bers of the NGO will reach the spot and res­cue the child.

“As soon as we re­ceive a call in­form­ing about a child beg­ging on the road, we in­stantly send our mem­bers to the spot. We try and track their par­ents. In some cases the fam­i­lies are very poor and un­able to feed the chil­dren. We en­sure that such chil­dren get food at home with­out beg­ging and send ra­tions to them reg­u­larly. As of now, we are send­ing ra­tions to seven fam­i­lies. We re­ceive the money for it from some in­di­vid­ual donors,” said Shobha Murthy, founder of the NGO.

“In many cases their par­ents earn money, but they don’t tell their chil­dren to stop beg­ging. We coun­sel such par­ents and con­vince them to send their chil­dren to school,” she added.

The cen­tre has also tracked some child beg­gars who are or­phans. They are plan­ning to send them to a ashram af­ter con­sult­ing the po­lice and mem­bers of Child Wel­fare Com­mit­tee (CWC).

“Af­ter com­plet­ing the le­gal for­mal­i­ties we will send them to ashrams or sim­i­lar places in dif­fer­ent parts of the state, where they can con­tinue with their ed­u­ca­tion,” an­other mem­ber said.

How­ever, the big­gest chal­lenge comes when the beg­gar chil­dren be­long to a racket. Such chil­dren re­main scared to tell their back­ground and are not ready for re­ceiv­ing any help from any­one.

Murthy said, “Re­cently we found a child near Ra­bale rail­way sta­tion. As we ap­proached him, he said he would be beaten up by his bosses if he did not pay the money he got from beg­ging. We tried to catch him to get more de­tails but he ran away and got lost in the melee. The po­lice need to pay at­ten­tion to this men­ace for en­sur­ing safety of the chil­dren.”

Push­palata Dighe, po­lice in­spec­tor of child pro­tec­tion unit of Navi Mum­bai, said, “We are tak­ing ini­tia­tives to curb the men­ace of child beg­gars in the city. We are also try­ing to find if beg­ging rack­ets are ac­tive and will take strict ac­tion if we find any.”

The childline cen­tre also re­ceived a to­tal of 71 cases in last two and a half months. While 53 cases have al­ready been solved, they are still work­ing on 18 other cases.

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