Most child beggars pushed into ‘business’ by parents in Kapurthala, say rescue teams
Kids rescued are produced before the Child Welfare Commission. The city however does not have a child protection home for rehabilitation.
In a statewide campaign to prevent child begging, the district administration rescued 14 children in last two months in Kapurthala, mostly being pushed by their own parents, rescuing teams have found.
However, all children were handed over to their parents after issuing a warning. No legal action has been initiated against parents by the district administration or police department under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
On Thursday, a team of district child rights commission, led by local police had found 4 minor children begging at city bus stand. District child protection officer (DCPO) Harpreet Kaur Sandhu said the children revealed that they did not go to school and their parents forced them to beg. “The Right to Education (RTE) Act is being violated as parents enrol their wards in schools and avail facilities offered by the government, but do not allow their kids to attend classes,” Sandhu said.
She added “We have given a stern warning to the parents of rescued children, before handing over their wards to them. If their children are found begging again, an FIR under the Juvenile Justice Act will be registered against them.” She said, so far no FIR has been registered against any parent, as in some cases they pled innocence and cited reasons such as extreme poverty.
Kids rescued from begging are produced before the Child Welfare Commission (CWC). The city however does not have a child protection home for rehabilitation, forcing officials to hand over the rescued children after issuing a warning to their parents.
Bachpan Bachao Andolan activists claim that some gangs might be operating a begging racket in the region but the administration lacks the mechanism to identify real parents of children. Moreover, they do not provide rehabilitation and monetary help to the rescued children and their families, due to this, they again start begging.
“Most beggars are migrants and their parents do not carry any age or identification proof. The department cannot afford to conduct DNA tests for every child. So we believe what their parents say,” DCPO said. She said that now, they will recommend the police to immediately file an FIR against the parents, if their child is found begging in the district.
Begging was prohibited in Punjab through a legislation passed in 1971. Child beggars are a common sight at major traffic light points in the state. Under the Punjab Prevention of Beggary Act, adults found begging can be jailed up to five years and mandates that child beggars should be rescued and put in children homes
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, legislated by the central government, has strict provisions to completely prohibit begging by children. Poor migrants, mostly from the eastern Indian states, push their children into begging, officials said.