Where are children often spotted begging? The most common answer would be, traffic signals. So, child rights organisations held a workshop here on Wednesday to rope in traffic policemen to address the issue. As many as 43 assistant sub-inspectors participated in the sensitisation programme.
The policemen were given three main lessons: to discourage children from begging at the traffic signals in their jurisdiction, to call the childline immediately when they spot a child beggar, and to monitor the child until the rescue team reaches the spot.
Explaining the importance of sensitising traffic cops about the issue, Nagamani C.N., Bangalore convener for the childline, said it was often the public who called to tell them about children begging rather than the police. “Usually, if a child is not allowed to beg at one signal, they will move to the next signal. If each traffic policeman stops the child from begging at their signal, these children will have nowhere to go to,” she explained.
Subramani C., childline coordinator for the Association for Promoting Social Action, said there are 60 new children found begging in the Majestic bus-stand and railway station area each day. “The begging mafia involves taking children on rent, missing children being made to beg, and women and children from migrant families being made to join in as they see it as a source of income,” he explained.
E. Nagaraj, assistant sub-inspector, Kumaraswamy Layout, said that although policemen were aware of the issue, pressure to maintain traffic kept them occupied. “Many policemen also think this is beyond their purview, which is not true,” he added.
S. Siddaiah of City Market traffic station had another point: “Films showing child beggars growing up to be dons or millionaires should also be censored as children are easily impressed by them.”