While most beggars are children and old amputees, the number of eunuchs begging at platforms and in trains has seen an astounding rise in the last few years. As per statistics, the number of eunuchs caught begging was 332 (2011), 674 (2012) and 228 (till Feb, 2013). The Government Railway Police (GRP) has been undertaking routine drives against these beggars but after a reprimand they get back to their begging ways after a few days.
“We get regular complaints from passengers about the increasing number of beggars in trains and on platforms. A maximum number of these beggars are eunuchs. Some of them are not really eunuchs but dress up and behave like one,” said a member of the GRP.
However, children and adults were found begging too. The GRP is launching drives against beggars at railway stations and inside local trains from this week. Beggars caught begging will be sent back to their native places with the help of NGOs.
The GRP has 67 child beggars including 34 boys and 33 girls in their custody (figures till March 31). “These kids have been rescued from railway platforms, local trains and from the suburban stations up to Palghar, Karjat and Kasara. We send them to rehabilitation centres and find out their identities to send them to their families,” said Rajendra Pal, inspector of GRP handling this project.
However, the statistics for the year 2013 show that a total of 259 child beggars (162 boys and 97 girls) have been rescued in the age group of 4-14 years. Moreover, out of the 259 child beggars, 174 were handed over to their families once they were traced, and 85 were sent to remand homes.
The court handed over nine boys and nine girls to their guardians and the other 67 are in the process of rehabilitation. Interestingly, there are few stations like Kurla, Thane, Kalyan, Vashi and Andheri, which child beggars prefer.
Dadar, Churchgate, Karjat and Bandra are stations where minimum child beggars are found. “We try our best to re-unite these children with their parents and succeed sometimes. Many kids run away from their homes to become part of Bollywood or earn in Mumbai but end up begging,” added Pal, in-charge of the child and women’s cell in the GRP. While child and adult beggars are being sent back to their families or rehabilitation centres, eunuchs caught are being fined.
Number of child beggars rescued: 259
Number of boys: 162
Number of girls: 97
Begging hot spots: Kurla, Thane, Kalyan, Vashi and Andheri