CCB suspects interstate beggary racket

CCB suspects interstate beggary racket

The Central Crime Branch (CCB) police who busted a beggary racket on Saturday night and rescued five babies, suspect that an interstate gang is operating in the City.

Police sources said that they had information that there were many such groups in the City, especially in view of the festival season.

“Following Ganesha festival, St Mary’s Feast and other festivals many such groups have entered the City. However, we could catch only two such groups,” an official said. The police believe that some groups had already made their way out of the City, towards Kolar, by Friday night.

Police suspect that those arrested on Saturday night at Kammanahalli and Fraser Town might have bought the babies from rural poor for a paltry sum. Joint Commissioner of Police (crime) Hemanth Nimbalkar said that although the arrested admitted that they used to drug the babies with sleeping pills to ensure that they didn’t cry or disturb them while begging, it had to be verified. He also said that trafficking angle is also being probed.

“While begging is an offence, forcing somebody to beg is a bigger offence under law. We are looking into all angles, including the possibility of existence of an inter-state racket. It will take a day or two for us to establish the identity of the accused as well as the children rescued,” Nimbalkar said.

Relief centre’s inaction

The CCB case also reveals the apathy of the state-run Beggars Relief Centre at Sumanahalli.

According to sources as per 2013 census of destitutes, which is yet to be released officially, City has more than 10,000 beggars, as against 9,600 found during 2012 census. 

On the contrary, the Beggars Relief Centre at Sumanahalli presently houses only 566 beggars, including 148 females. The Karnataka Prohibition of Beggary Act stipulates that only a police officer or any other officer authorised by the government can arrest any person, other than a child, for begging.   

Santosh Naragund of Rashtrottan Sankalp Trust, which filed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) on the issue of streamlining rehabilitation of beggars, said that the Beggars Relief Centre was severely short-staffed. “Since 2007, we have been working towards strengthening the relief centre. In fact, because of the PIL, for the first time in the entire country, annual census of beggars was initiated in the State.

The problem is that the centre does not have a full time secretary and it is literally headless right now. The relief centre has 260 sanctioned posts, however because of lack of manpower it is not being able to bring destitutes to mainstream,'' he said.

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