ByÂ Mahitha Kasireddi:
We child beggars of India don’t have any answers to the questions you ask like, “You don’t go to school?”, “Don’t you know begging is a crime? “, “If you don’t go to school you will have to keep begging all your life!”. We don’t understand what a school is. Well, you all are very fortunate and always have the chance to judge us but given a chance we have a lot say.
Our parents were poor. We don’t even remember their faces now! They would abuse us as we were a burden. Most of us don’t even know who our parents are. May be we were stolen from the hospitals. We were left to live on our own. We keep running away from places and people as these are the things which baffle us totally. Some of us are from Dalits, some from Adivasis, and some from the slums of metro cities. Because of the desperate situation we are put into we are forced to steal and beg.
We get carried away even with a slightest sign of goodness and that’s how we are trapped in the nets of the ‘beggar mafia’ for the rest of our lives. The ‘Dada’ or the beggar’s ring leader gives us bruises with acid or amputates our limbs or mercilessly blinds us. The more disfigured we are, the more we earn. This destitute look helps us to evoke sympathy in you. If you ask us how our arms have disappeared we will say that we lost them in an accident. We were trained to say so. The mannerism we put up in front of you while begging is all trained by our leader. We are too scared to open our mouths. If we do, the Dada will bend us and cut out tongues.
We are given daily targets to earn a certain amount and if we don’t meet those targets we are beaten brutally and not given any food. Each day we struggle to find minimum amount of food to keep ourselves alive for the next day. We suffer physical abuse which is such a high voltage torture that it’s difficult to articulate the magnitude of pain we go through. We are kept under control with solvents, alcohol, drugs and other narcotics. It helps us to forget about ourselves.
The police sahibs rescue us sometimes by arresting us but we were never sent to any beggar rehabilitation centres. The ring leaders and police work hands in gloves and in no time we are again brought back to the streets under the scotching heat of the sun to pester you at the traffic signals.
Our new born brothers and sisters are also launched into this disparaging business. They are hired by the beggar mafia and mother receives a regular commission for that. We are like a short lived rare species bird. We don’t survive for more than 12 years of age. We don’t grow old; we are replaced by new ones.
The biggies of the country have set up some laws and now we are criminalized for begging for no fault of ours. The tourists who visit our country take our pictures and mock at us over the internet because we the ‘shame of the nation’ and we are ‘criminals’.
We are 3,00,000 in number and 44,000 of others like us get trapped every year. Hundreds like us are disfigured by amputating limbs or killed for selling organs. Some are forced into pornography and made sex slaves.
Life is not easy for anyone but we put up a countless times more than you without asking any questions. Nobody will advice you on how you should treat us or what you should do for us, but please spare us from your questions !!
Child Beggars of India.