Delhi Engineer Ashish Sharma has come to Braj to raise awareness about the problem of child begging.
Sharma has completed a walk of 17,000 km across India in order to spread the message that children begging on India’s streets must not be tolerated. He set out on this mission on 22nd August 2017. Sharma said that in most towns, children’s homes have been built, but, little effort is made to put children found begging into these shelters.
Children begging on the streets are losing their chance to go to school and have a normal childhood, and are in great danger from sexual predators. It is estimated that at least 60,000 children go missing every year in India and children begging on the streets are particularly at risk. Some of the children found on the streets have already been incorporated into child trafficking syndicates, whereas others are sent to beg by their parents.
Sharma was making 6 Lakh per year. He studied aircraft engineering and aircraft maintenance, but he gave up his job to fulfill his dream of making a difference to India’s most vulnerable children. Sharma said that he is making a mobile app. so that people can make a report when they see a child beggar.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) runs ‘Operation MUSKAAN’ from time to time to locate missing children. During the 2016 Campaign, 12,233 children were recovered, but child welfare workers say that the children often go back to begging.
Stopping child begging is no easy task. Often parents and organized child trafficking crime rings are involved. Children become habituated to street life and do not see the benefit of going to school. Resources and dedicated social workers are needed to rehabilitate them.
A resident of Chaitanya Vihar said, “there is a family who live in a hut and I see their daughter begging by putting tilak on tourists. I feel so scared for her and so angry with her father. Instead of working himself, he sends his daughter out to beg. Such men should be sent to forced labour camps and the profits of their work should be sent to their wife and children.”
It is difficult to believe that police are serious about stopping child begging when children can be seen begging at the shops across from Vrindavan ISKCON temple, only 100 meters from the police station.
People have become habituated to seeing children begging on the streets and many feel powerless to make a difference, but not Ashish Sharma. This young man has taken a strong stand to raise awareness about this human rights abuse that is happening right in front of our eyes.