Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Plight of child beggars 20 Sept. 2012

Child beggars: Victims of an organized criminal racket

(Just like a flower, I’m nobody’s child)


Last Saturday evening. at the Mahatma Gandhi Road -Brigade Road junction in Bangalore, the inevitable traffic snarl : A cacophony of horns, frayed tempers and poisonous gases coursing through the lungs.There, limping on crudely constructed crutches, between the assorted vehicles, a 14 year old girl with bedraggled hair, hands thrust out for alms. Her eyes revealing a thousand miseries, her body language, the desperation of the dispossessed. Just as the jam comes unstuck, I wonder: ``Were those burn-marks on her wrist caused by cigarettes stubbed cruelly on skin?’’

Moving by fits and starts to the next traffic blockage at the Kamaraj Road - Cubbon Road intersection. Big, fat rain drops start to fall, accompanied by the roar of thunder. Beggar children everywhere. A closer look in the fullstop of halted traffic. Some children minus a hand, some an eye, some with unhealed cuts and bruises, a 16-year-old child-woman pregnant, and horror of horror, clutching an infant to her wet bosom.

These are images of the “ Nobody’s Child”, of their exploitation, mutilation, molestation. They are victims of an organized criminal racket. How does one deal with a conscience that doesn’t let you forget?
More than six and a half decades after our hard won freedom, this is the spectre of the child beggars! How can a nation that ignores these waifs be free? How can we let homeless children suffer before our very eyes? What does one do? The spirit is willing. The demands of the rat race over-whelming. Not all of us possess the courage to reach out to these unfortunate souls.

Some of us can write sad poetry or tough prose, but it’s not going to help that beggar girl hobbling at the junction, her young body coveted by some criminal gang lurking in the corner.That children are kidnapped and used for beggary is a crime against society. The number of mafia organizations indulging in such crimes is on the increase. It is a shame that authorities fail to check them, let alone wipe them out. Instances of children being kidnapped are on the rise. And mafias are everywhere.Using children for beggary is an organised business in India. Children stolen from different parts of the country are used for this. Each child has a daily target to achieve. They bear scars of inhuman treatment in their body. They are cruelly mutilated, dismembered or blinded to win sympathy and to fill the coffers of the criminals. It is worse than murder. It is shameful that it occurs in a country that claims cultural superiority over all other nations of the world.

Why not Karnataka take a leaf out of the Kerala-model where even those below poverty line (BPL) take care of their children properly. Among begging children the number from Kerala is very low. Parents do not supplement their income resorting or encouraging child labour instead they are sent to school. Even illiterate parents want their children educated. But we cannot be complacent that the children are outsiders. They may be stolen (kidnapped) from our homes. For the mafias who organise beggary, kidnapping children is part of their business. They kidnap children from homes or persuade innocent children from or on the way to school to run away. Kidnapping and selling them is also part of the business. It is everyone’s knowledge that beggars are brought in to Bangalore and other towns during festive seasons to mint money for the mafias.

Another aspect of this dark business is that the children may ultimately be turned into criminals themselves. They end up in goonda gangs and become anti-social elements. They also are exploited sexually.
There are laws for the prevention of children being used for begging. But the law is not enforced. The authorities often turn a blind eye. If the laws lack efficacy, they are to be amended. Institutions run by government for the welfare of the children do not give satisfying services.

Begging was prohibited in many towns in Kerala long ago.. Beggars were caught and put in welfare homes. After adding sufficient rooms in these homes begging should be strictly prohibited. School and college premises, railway and bus stations, and traffic junctions and market places and shopping areas should be free from beggars.

It is a pity that our children are at the mercy of the mafia. If we cannot save our children what else can we be proud of? Let us put in place an effective system that wipes out this crime.

We need militant laws to compel the State, as a first step, to nurture the neglected millions crowding our towns and cities to pick food from garbage cans and live like stray animals in the streets even while beautification with fountains and five star hotels and golf courses and swanky malls are going on. Beggary abolition Acts give children stones, but not bread! Asked Christ: “What man is there of you, who if his son asks bread, will he give him a stone? “ There are many of that species in India today.


1 comment:

D Balaji said...

I liked your thought and found one such young girl who was begging with top of her enthusiasm today. she was less than 5 years.

Will writing to the govt. officials help in this regd.? you can mail me ideas at dhbalaji (at) outlook (dot) com

help me in rescuing them..