The UT administration has set October 2 as the deadline for people to stop using children for begging in the city. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting held here on Monday.
UT home secretary Anurag Agarwal, confirming the development, said “We have decided to ensure that child beggary does not exist in the city. For this, we have set a deadline and will try to ensure that there are no minors indulging in the menace in the city by October 2.”
The administration has also decided that action would be taken against parents if they send their child for begging. The legal provisions are being studied by the administration following which parents would also be prosecuted for forcing a minor into begging.
The UT administration had got a survey conducted two months back with the help of Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights. According to the survey, there are around 1,200 child beggars in the city. Kids could be seen asking for alms in the city markets, traffic light points and middle of the roads.
The survey had pointed out that the children into beggary were not being forced by any kind of gang operating in the city. Instead they were being sent for begging by their parents.
A UT administration official said as per the survey findings, the parents found it more convenient to send children for begging than to the schools. A majority of children were found begging in Sectors 20, 21 and 44 and are staying with their parents who migrated to the city from other parts of the country such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal.
Chandigarh MC commissioner Bhawna Garg will prepare a detailed action report on the issue. The report will entail as to how to create awareness against child beggars, rehabilitate them and make them take up education and send them to schools.
The drive to eradicate child beggars would be conducted jointly by UT social welfare department and the UT police department. The administration plans to pick up children from wherever they are found begging. The children would not be shifted to Snehalaya as already there are a large number of children housed in the home for destitute. The home secretary said, “After picking up the kids found begging from streets or markets, they will be handed over to the parents. In case there are no parents or relatives, a specific place will be earmarked for keeping them.”