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Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Puri: Even as the Central as well as the State government have launched several schemes to promote education and ensure development of individuals, rising numbers of child beggars in Puri and other parts of the State have raised questions on the reformative steps undertaken by the government to eradicate the social evil.

Though there is no confirmation of involvement of any dedicated racket, it is suspected that middlemen are forcing the children to beg on streets. The situation also hints towards rise in human-trafficking cases.

A few days back, two kids were spotted begging at Puri Badadanda with some people considering it a good deed and charity did not hesitate to donate some money while some others ignored them.

It may be noted that this was not the only instance of child begging as several instances have been observed when children were found begging on the streets of the holy city. Some of the child beggars have joined their family profession of begging while some beg on the streets to slake their hunger.

“Children need to be counselled. Either family members have engaged them in the begging profession or some situation is forcing them to do so. May be some middlemen are bringing needy and poor children from different locations and engaging them in this profession,” says Prasanna Kumar Das, President of Citizen Awareness Forum.

“Our law states delivering free education and free food are compulsory, but it seems, these children are deprived of their basic rights” added Das.

Meanwhile, District Child Welfare Committee Chairman and District Child Protection Committee Chairperson of Puri have admitted the instances and raised serious concerns over the matter.

As per law, education has been made mandatory for individuals up to the age of 14 years. Whenever any such incident is reported or comes to fore, children are rescued and required arrangements are made for them to access education. However, after some days, parents of these children create hurdles.

“Right to education has been made compulsory for all. Everyone will get free education till 8th class and we take immediate steps to rescue them and make the required arrangements. Our initiatives had curbed such occurrences in the city, but now it seems to have started again. We will take immediate action to put an end to it,” informed Mahabir Rudranandan, Chairman, Child Welfare Committee.

Manoj Kumar Tripathy, Chairperson of District Child Protection Committee urged people to not to engage their children in begging profession.

"We are launching drive to make people aware about the situation through different programmes. Whenever we receive a report of such involvement we immediately rescue children and link them with the education system,” informed Tripathy.

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