Bengaluru

‘720 minors begging or hawking on city streets’

A survey conducted on the direction of the High Court of Karnataka has identified 720 minor children engaged in begging or hawking in 432 hotspots across the city, and 27 of these children appear to be forced to do so by a mafia.

While pointing out that 492 of these children are below the age of 10, the survey has pointed out that 52 children are engaged in begging as a profession, 219 children are begging or hawking on account of family problems, 76 infants are being carried by their mothers or caretakers either for begging or hawking.

As many as 337 children are connected to persons who are engaged in construction and other small works, and nine children are handicapped or disabled, the report stated.

On a mafia controlling 27 children, the survey report said: “Upon talking to them, the children were found speaking different languages. There is a strong doubt with regard to these children belonging to their handlers as there are major differences in colour, mannerism and language of these children, and these children were found frequently revealing different names to the public.” The report recommended immediate action to rescue these children from their handlers.

“If proper investigation is carried out in respect of these suspicious groups with 27 children, the issue of missing children can be cracked,” the report stated.

The Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA) submitted the report after conducting the survey during January-March 2021 with the help of various NGOs, law students, para legal volunteers, officials of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the city police, and other departments of the State government. The survey used a mobile app – We are 4 child – developed with the help of Kochi-based Abhishek Krishnan, a founder of Strofes Technologies, for collection of data.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj, which perused the report, said that it would issue detailed directions on April 23. The court had ordered the survey on a PIL petition filed by city-based Letzkit Foundation espousing the cause of minor children begging and selling flowers and other articles on the streets.

Suggestions

The report recommended proper counselling for children engaged in begging or hawking as a profession or owing to family economic problems, and their parents or caretakers, sending them back to their native places or providing shelter in the city, admitting them in schools, and providing employment to their parents or caretakers.

For children engaged in labour along with their parents in construction and other works, the report suggested relief through Child Labour Act. All these children must be provided with Aadhaar to enable them to get benefits of various government schemes, the KSLSA said.

Food coupons

Pointing out that children are into begging in Bengaluru due to higher amount of alms paid to them in cash by the public, the KSLSA suggested that the government create awareness amongst the public to give food coupons to those begging on streets instead of cash.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 11:10:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/720-minors-begging-or-hawking-on-city-streets/article34371222.ece

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