To better tackle the menace of children pushed into begging, the Mumbai police have roped in the child welfare committee (CWC), which will check the backgrounds of rescued minors to trace how they ended up in the ‘profession’.
The decision to get the CWC’s help marks a shift in the police’s approach to the issue, with the focus turning from just rehabilitating rescued children to finding culprits who force them into begging.
The CWC will collect details from the minors and study trends, and submit monthly reports to the director general of police, enforcement.
With a persistent crackdown on juvenile beggars, the number of cases registered has shot up over six times this year, to 187 in mid-2015, with 389 children rescued.
In 2014, 29 cases were registered and 124 children rescued.
The decision to involve the CWC was taken after a meeting the deputy commissioner of police (enforcement), Pravinkumar Patil, held with the officials of the Juvenile Aid Protection Unit (JAPU) and with at least 60 representatives of non-profit organisations recently, to discuss the menace of children ending up begging in streets and on trains.
“It was seen that rescued juveniles would again land up on streets, begging, and the whole purpose of the exercise would be defeated. Hence, we asked the CWC to collate specific details of those who push them into the trade, so that action can be taken against them,” said Patil, DCP (enforcement).
Officers said in most of the cases, family members or the guardians of the minors are involved in making the children beg, and their earnings are a major contributor to the family income.
The investigators said they are yet to come across any organised begging racket in the city.
Since prosecuting the accused under provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act was not acting as a deterrent, the police have begun filing cases under the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act and the Indian Penal Code.
Sensitisation sessions are also conducted for policemen at least once a month, so that the crackdown against child begging continues efficiently.
Focus on punishing those responsible
* The Mumbai police have sought the Child welfare Committee’s help to control the menace of children being pushed into begging
* It was decided the issue could be deal better with an in-depth knowledge of how the minors end up in the trade
* Thus, the CWC has been asked to engage with the children and find out who made them take to begging
* Criminal action will be initiated against the culprits
* A Child Welfare Officer (CWO), of the rank of a sub-inspector or assistant inspector, has been appointed in each police station, to keep a check on the offence in their jurisdiction.
* The Juvenile Aid Protection Unit (JAPU) and policemen in all police stations are being sensitized to act against street begging by juveniles