Though 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.
In a statewide campaign to rehabilitate children engaged in begging, the Punjab State Commission of Child Rights Protection claims to have rescued as many as 1,084 juvenile beggars in the last two months.
Gurdaspur had the highest incidence of child begging with 282 children having been rescued from the district, Pathankot district was at second spot with 146 child beggars. Only nine child beggars were rescued from Ferozepur district.
Of the rescued children, 214 were admitted to schools, while 260 were let off after counselling, commission chairman Sukesh Kalia said. Also, the parents of these children were made aware of their wards’ rights and were warned against using them for begging.
Commission secretary Kahan Singh Pannu has asked the deputy commissioners to constitute teams of officials to implement the Punjab Prevention of Beggary Act, 1971, in the respective districts.
This Act provides jail up to five years for begging by adults 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 had strict provisions to completely prohibit begging by children.
The commission in a bid to improve the scenario has set up district child protection units which collaborate with the department of the women and child development for the rehabilitation of such children.
Pannu, who is monitoring the campaign against child begging in the state, appealed to the public not to encourage an illegal practice of child begging by giving alms.
There is no use finding fault with the EVMs now when the party leadership committed a historic blunder with regard to the overall strategy in the elections. First, it should look within to find out reasons that stopped AAP’s march to power,” Chandigarh-based The Tribune quoted Mann as saying.