AGRA: A total of 215 children were rescued in four districts of Agra division till June this year by the anti-human trafficking unit (AHTU), revealed an RTI query filed by TOI reporter. Of them, only one child benefited under a government scheme and another one was sent to a government shelter home in the Firozabad district.
The data revealed that 80 children, including 57 boys and 23 girls, were rescued in Firozabad district in the last two years. In Mathura, 24 children, including 10 boys and 6 girls; in Mainpuri district, 16 children, including 10 boys and 6 girls, were rescued. In Agra, 95 child beggars were rescued, including 61 boys and 34 girls, in the age group of 5 to 17 years.
Child right activists said the rescued children were then handed over to their family members after producing them before the child welfare committee. None of these children or their family members has benefitted from any government scheme, claimed Agra-based child rights activist Naresh Paras.
With no rehabilitative assistance, these children return to begging on roads or start working as child labourers. Paras said, “Rescuing these children remains a formality, with hardly any efforts made by the authorities for their rehabilitation. The state government should ensure follow-up of all the rescued children to keep them off from begging on the streets again.”
“In the last one year, I have sent a survey report on child begging twice to the district administration, but no action has been taken. These children are trained not to talk to people about themselves. They cover themselves and run away on seeing the camera. The location of these children also changes from one crossing to another after a few days. All these things point towards involvement of a gang that makes them beg on the street,” Paras said.
However, the data suggested that no FIR related to child begging in these two years was registered. Besides, AHTU of Agra police denied the involvement of any gang in child begging in the district.
The Children Act 1960 and the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act 2015 prohibit child begging in the country. Begging is considered a “public nuisance” under the IPC section 133.
Member of the state commission for protection of child rights, Shuchita Chaturvedi, said, “We have been repeatedly pursuing with district level authorities across the state to stop child begging. Rescuing a child beggar is useless until we empower his/her family and connect them with school. Authorities need to do follow-up for their rehabilitation. There are various government schemes in which these children or their family members can be benefitted. I will pursue the matter with the minister for social welfare.”
Agra district magistrate Navneet Singh Chahal was unavailable on calls at the time of filing this report.

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