He says he had to bring a minimum Rs. 500 a day or would be beaten and starved

When members of a child helpline here went to rescue a nine-year-old boy — dressed up like the deity Hanuman — found begging in front of a temple in Bytarayanapura, the child placed an unusual demand. The boy, who had been standing in scorching heat since morning, refused to accompany them unless he was paid Rs. 130.

Though surprised, the volunteers gave him the money following which he agreed to go with them. What emerged was disturbing: the boy had been forced to beg in front of temples by his parents who had ordered him not to return home without a day’s earning of at least Rs. 500.

He told the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) members later that his mother would beat him up and refuse him food if his daily collection was less than Rs. 500.

“He would stop seeking alms once he reached the daily target and wait for his mother to take him home,” a CWC member toldThe Hindu.

The Class 4 dropout migrated to Bangalore along with his parents and younger brother from Haveri last year. He told his rescuers that his father is a construction worker and mother a domestic help.

“During preliminary investigation, we found bruises on his body that he claimed were due to abuse by parents. He is now housed at Balakara Bala Bhavana, and is keen on continuing his studies,” a CWC member said.

According to BOSCO Child Helpline executive director Fr. P.S. George, the boy is in the care of CWC, which has now summoned the parents for counselling.

“His father, Venkatesh, came to us and asked the boy to be released. But we have asked him to come back next week for counselling and further investigation,” he said.

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