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Too many child beggars on Chardham route, child rights panel asks if they are abduction victims

Uttarakhand Child Rights Protection Commission Chairman Yogendra Khanduri has asked state chief secretary to get the begging racket investigated

dehradun Updated: Jun 29, 2017 20:50 IST
Anupam Trivedi
Anupam Trivedi
Hindustan Times
Child beggars in Dehradun seeking alms.
Child beggars in Dehradun seeking alms.(HT File)

A sudden spurt in the number of beggars, mostly women and children, on the route to the Chardham shrines has caught the attention of the state Child Rights Protection Commission (SCRPC), which Thursday asked the Uttarakhand government to look into the problem and take immediate measures to stop it.

In a letter to the state chief secretary, SCRPC chairman Yogendra Khanduri said needs to be probed whether the children seen begging with women on Haridwar to Badrinath-Kedarnath and Gangotri-Yamunotri routes were “abducted” from some other place and forced to beg here.

“I have been getting inputs on organised begging activities in the state, particularly on the route to Chardham where lakhs of pilgrims are visiting. Government must find out from where the beggars are coming into state and whether the children and toddlers accompanying the women beggars are their own or have been abducted (from some other place),” Khanduri told HT while sharing details of the letter.

Asking the state government to investigate under what circumstances the children took to begging, the Khanduri said, “If they are from outside the state, then they should be sent home immediately.”

In case of children from Uttarakhand found begging, the government should make arrangements for their security, health and education, he said. “If these children and women are found to be begging at the behest of some mafia, they should be freed from their captivity and the guilty punished,” Khanduri said.

Khanduri said he has written to the chief secretary so that he may direct the police or other concerned agency to investigate into the racket. Asking the state government to investigate the issue along suggested lines Khanduri asked the chief secretary to submit an action taken report to the commission as early as possible.

Chief secretary was not available for comments.

As per the 2011 census, there are around 400,000 beggars in the country. Out of this, 3,000 are in Uttarakhand. They include 274 children.

Beggary is a crime as per Bombay prevention of begging act 1959. Twenty states and two union territories have adopted the act. Uttarakhand is one of the states that has not enforced the act.

Ratan Aswal, a social activist who last month posted the pictures on social media of the beggars in the buses heading towards Chardham, said it was high time government enforced anti-begging act in the state. “Begging is affecting tourism. Temporary measures will not work, government needs to act hard,” he said.

So far around 17 lakh pilgrims have already visited the Chardhams – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamnotri and Gangotri.

First Published: Jun 29, 2017 20:50 IST

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