Despite the anti-begging drive carried out by the district child protection unit last month, child beggars can still be spotted all over the Royal City, cocking a snoot at the authorities.
In the absence of strong enforcement of anti-begging laws, the practice of begging seems to be increasing at an alarming rate in the city with children, as young as four years in age, being seen begging in the city in shabby conditions.
These children, mostly barefooted, are roaming and seeking alms at various public places, their favourites being religious places, traffic signals and major markets. Other areas include Adalat Bazaar and eating joints at Urban Estate and Leela Bhawan.
Though the authorities say that the children are being forced by their parents into begging and claim that there is no mafia involved in it, residents of the city are not sure of it.
People feel empathy for the toddlers begging, but are in a dilemma about whether they should give money to them or not, as they don’t know whether the money is used by them or someone else.
Commuters feel annoyed by the regular tapping on their windows at the traffic lights by the beggars. Many people visiting religious shrines or market places feel harassed and exasperated when they are accosted by them, seeking money.
Sukhwinder Singh, a commuter, said these beggars are either children in the age group of 5 to10 years or mothers carrying infants with them.
“They not only create nuisance throughout the city but also affect the traffic flow while risking their lives as well. I feel reluctant while giving them money as I have heard that some begging mafia controls them,” he added.
When contacted, district child security officer Shaina Kapoor said she was aware of the issue and they had been conducting anti-begging drive in the city.
“We cannot carry on such drives regularly as these beggars then get alert and hide themselves. If we carry out a surprise inspection, the beggars are cauht unawares and don’t get time to hide themselves. That makes the drive successful,” she added.