The Mumbai police’s enforcement wing rescued 1,228 juveniles from begging and child labour as of September this year, more than twice as many – 587 – as in the same period last year and the highest in four years.
The police’s Social Service Branch and Juvenile Aid Protection Unit conducted frequent raids in coordination with NGOs. Of the 1,228 children, 801 were rescued from manufacturing units where they worked as labourers, while the remaining 427 were rescued from begging on the streets, officials said. The police registered as many as 551 cases in connection with the rescues and arrested 701 people for employing juveniles or pushing them into begging.
However, the large number of children rescued this year comes with a catch – children’s homes are struggling to accommodate them all owing to limited space and poor infrastructure.
As the number of children rescued every month began to rise, officials at children’s homes told the police they were facing severe space shortages and said they were unable to accommodate all the rescued children.
Now, the police are holding frequent meetings with these officials to share information about major raids so that children’s homes are better prepared.
“We are focusing on better coordination among all the agencies so that the results show improvement with each passing day. We hold meetings with all the stakeholders; we will be meeting this month to discuss how can we improve the process further,” said Pravinkumar Patil, deputy commissioner of police (enforcement).
The Mumbai police have also asked the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) to conduct thorough background checks on all the children rescued from begging to study trends and find out how they got into begging. Police officials said that they are also focusing on finding the culprits rather than only on reforming juveniles. The CWC has also been asked to gather details of the children’s backgrounds and send a detailed monthly report to Patil.