The survey conducted by Karnataka State Legal Services Authority also suggested measures pertaining to the rehabilitation of the children.

Photo of children near a street engaged in beggingImage for Representation/ Picxabay
news Child Rights Wednesday, April 21, 2021 - 14:22

A survey by Karnataka State Legal Services Authority, conducted on the direction of the Karnataka High Court, has identified that as many as 720 children are engaged in begging or hawking across Bengaluru in over 400 hotspots. According to the survey, 52 children are engaged in begging as a ‘profession’, of which 27 minors appeared to be forced into this by mafia groups, reported The Hindu. 

Highlighted that nearly 500 children identified in the survey are below the age of 10 years, the survey noted that approximately 219 children were engaged in parents or guardians while begging or hawking, the survey noted. As many as 337 children are also engaged in construction and other small works, and nine children have disabilities, the report stated.

Making a note of the 27 children purportedly forced by the mafia, the survey said that the children spoke different languages. The legal services committee said it based its doubts on the variation in the skin colour, different mannerisms and language of the children, and conflicting names these children give in public. Recommending an immediate rescue action to save the children, the report hinted that it could also help crack several missing children cases.

The survey was ordered in February while the court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by city-based Letzkit Foundation on the rehabilitation of minor children engaged in begging and hawking in the city. The Karnataka High Court had directed the KSLSA to start the data collection survey to identify children who are forced to sell toys, flowers and other articles on the streets of Bengaluru. The High Court also said that the objective was not to penalise anyone but to ensure such children are given education.  

The Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA) submitted the report using the data that was collected and collated during January-March 2021 with help of different non-governmental organisations (NGOs), officials of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), para-legal volunteers, law students from the city colleges, Bengaluru police, education, labour, women and children development departments of state government.

The report recommended counselling for the children involved in begging and hawking due to familial issues. KSLSA also said that the children should be given Aadhar cards to enable them to avail benefits of governmental schemes. In the report to the Karnataka High Court, the committee also suggested that child begging is high in Bengaluru as more people are giving cash. It recommended that people be made aware of the implications of the same, and instead, hand out food coupons to the children.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj said that they will announce detailed directions on April 23 pertaining to the issue, reported Deccan Herald. 

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