PM orders probe into child beggar mafia | india | Hindustan Times
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PM orders probe into child beggar mafia

PM Manmohan Singh has ordered an investigation into the child beggar mafia operating in Mumbai after a farmer-turned Methodist preacher from Somerset in the UK sent him a clipping of a report carried in a British newspaper about beggar children, reports Naomi Canton.

india Updated: Apr 02, 2009 02:03 IST
Naomi Canton

In a scene from Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire, hot oil is poured into a boy’s eyes so that he can bring in more money as a blind beggar.

The reel horror recently came knocking home.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has ordered an investigation into the child beggar mafia operating in Mumbai after a farmer-turned Methodist preacher from Somerset in the UK sent him a clipping of a report carried in a British newspaper about beggar children.

On January 24, The Daily Mail published Real Slumdog Millionaires: Mafia Gangs Crippling Children For Profit. The report detailed how gangs were severing limbs of street children so that they could make extra money begging.

“We know children are being forced to beg. Limbless children are begging at railway stations in Mumbai,” said Santosh Shinde, executive director of child rights organisation Balprafulta in Andheri.

Geoff Chapman (64) told HT over the phone that he was so shocked reading the report that he sent a clip to the PM.

A director in the Prime Minister’s Office wrote to the ministry of women and child development, demanding a probe. A senior ministry officer wrote to state secretary Vijay Satbir Singh on February 19, seeking a report.

“The Centre wants to know if it is true and if it is, what measures should be taken to put a stop to it,” Singh said.

Mumbai police chief Hasan Gafoor and state commission for protection of child rights chairperson Meenakshi Jaswail, who were asked by Singh to look into the matter, said on Tuesday an inquiry was on. The report will be submitted soon, they said.

Chapman said he was delighted that the matter was being looked into. “I’m surprised they did not know it was happening.”