existence of street children in Delhi is not something new. Historically, the
streets of Delhi have been both the theatre and battleground for the children
whom we call Street children. They have been talked about in the news, referred
in literature and have led to the development of organizations to assist them
like CRY, Salaam Balaak. It has been estimated through the study conducted by
UNICEF that there are around 100000 children roaming on the streets of Delhi
and the number is still increasing.
Definition of Street Children
first used the term 'street children' in 1851 when he wrote 'London Labour and
London Poor'. In earlier researches any child working or living on the streets
was termed as street child. Later the street children were distinguished on the
basis of the time they spend on the streets and different definitions were
introduced. According to UNICEF they fall under two categories- On the street
and Of the street. "Children of the street" are the homeless children who live and
sleep on the streets in urban areas. They are on their own and do not have any
parental supervision or care though some do live with other homeless adults. "Children on the street" earn a livelihood from street such as street urchins
and beggars. They return home at night and have contact with their families.
Raj Kumar a
ten-year-old boy shifted to the streets of Delhi with his family who originally
belonged to Rajasthan due to his health conditions. They shifted to Delhi to
earn money for his surgery. Not being able to rent a room they started to live
with the other people on the streets in the tent under the flyover. Raj joined
the kids in selling the stuff on the streets. As he did not have any documents
the health and welfare programs did not reached him, as he was invisible to the
system. Who reached out to him was the people who promised him a good and
better life with more money he was earning and took him somewhere unknown where
he was made to do embroidery work. Those people also introduced him to the
drug. He got addicted to sniffing of the glue and chewing tobacco, which
further worsen his condition. The owner did not find his work satisfactory so
he was thrown out of there. After travelling in the train hiding from the
ticket checker along with some more kids begging on the train he was somehow
able to reach back to his parents. He again joined his friends in selling of
the stuff but after few months he left everyone and rested in peace. His parents being helpless returned back to
five-year-old boy has always been on road since the day he was born. He sells
roses on the red light and earns twice the more money then any other member of
his family. He was given glue once but the older street kids near him didn't
allowed him to continue. He is the youngest of the all in that group and
therefore all the others are protective of him. He wakes up early morning
everyday so that he can sit on the footpath and watch the children get into
their buses for school. He wishes to join school someday. The scheme started by
the government have not reached him also as he is also invisible in the system.
Therefore, so that he can go to school someday he saves money in a broken box
hidden under the tiles of footpath on which they spend the maximum time.
Drug Use and Street Children
Out of all
the kids running around in the streets of Delhi around 70,000 are addicts to
one or the other drugs according to the survey conducted by Women and Child
Development Department in collaboration with National Drug Dependence Treatment
Centre at AIIMS. Out of there 20,000 are addicted to tobacco, 9,450 to alcohol,
7,910 to inhalants, 5,600 to cannabis, 840 to heroin, 210 each to
pharmaceutical opioids and sedatives each. Injecting any available drug is
common in these kids and the number cannot be estimated. Drugs are introduced
to these kids when they are introduced in the world of begging and slavery.
Sedatives and inhalants are introduced to these kids at a very early age of two
while alcohol and tobacco is introduced at the age of ten while heroin and
cannabis at the age of thirteen to fourteen.
kids in the arms of those helpless ladies as they saw are not their real kids.
They are the kids who are being rented to them for rupees two hundred or three
hundred depending on the condition of the kid. The worst the condition of the
kid the more the money will be asked for. These kids are given sedatives so
that they remain unconscious or unresponsive so that they do not cry or shout during
the time when they ask for alms.
WHO reports kids forced to beg or work on the streets or in the illegal
factories of crackers, candle and bangle factory or made to do embroidery use
drugs to anaesthetize physical or emotional pain, or to replace the need for
Mafia and Children
the police statistics 44,000 children disappear each year. The true number of
abducted children is believed to be much higher, estimation going up to one
million a year but it is not recorded due to the reports not filed or the
missing child being orphan making them all invisible in the system. These
children are then sold of as cheap labor in illegal factories, establishments
and homes. Send of to Gulf countries as camel jockeys or are forced to
beg. Sold to people in the process of
illegal adoption. The worst these kids face is when they become a part of organ
trading. Out of lakhs of kids seen in the streets only twenty percent of them
are girls. As the girls abducted are seldom forced into marriage or exploited
as sex slaves or forced into child porn industries. Boys are also forced into
porn industries but mainly it is the girls.
sure that these kids are addicted to the street life and drugs so that even if
set free in some rescue operation they are more likely to come back to streets
only. These kids in the need of drugs and surviving on the streets ends up
getting involved in the business of drug selling in illegal manner or any other
Delhi Government, Police and NGOs on
Mafia of Beggars
the state government of Delhi there is no mafia controlling the beggars of
Delhi. These kids are by choice on the streets some along with their families.
According to Bhisham Singh Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch), there
is no begging mafia in Delhi as suggested by their findings. Investigation was
conducted for sixty days with surveillance points at ten specific areas with
large number of beggars. It was monitored round-the â€“clock and two hundred beggars
were interviewed. And it was concluded that no mafia or organized racket was
controlling them. There is an informal network which beggars become part of
after having spent years on the streets. But still he had some doubts and say
it cannot be certified that no mafia exists at all.
According to Rakesh Senger who along with his
team from Bachpan Bachao Andolan assisted the Delhi Police in its investigation
after interviewing thousands of street children one can find clues that suggest
forced begging does exist in the city. According to him organized begging
groups do not operate in Delhi because of the result of legal and procedural
technicalities as authorities rarely invoke the appropriate provisions related
to force begging when they come across such cases, making it hard to identify
This can be
backed up with the two cases reported in 2007 and 2011 where Delhi Police
busted a gang in South Delhi after they were found to be bringing children from
different villages in Rajasthan on the pretext of jobs and forcing them to beg
and a women was arrested after being accused of forcing the children to beg
while pretending to run a homeless shelter respectively. In both the cases the
accused were involved in the forced begging in very systematic manner but were
not recorded as the case of organized begging but as the human trafficking and
illegal adoption racket respectively.
government and police are still deciding whether begging in Delhi is related to
mafia or not, Mafia like a disease is spreading in the streets of Delhi
snatching away the childhood and life of those unfortunate souls who have
become invisible for the people who are lucky enough to save their loved ones
from that life. Invisible to the government, police and people under the dark blanket
of drugs these kids still continue their ghostly ambling in the streets. They
being reduced to nobody in the place crowded by people and are faceless. An
occasional passerby might take notice of them. Then forget them. And they are
A Profile Of Street Children. World Health Organization.
2) Behura,N.K. and Mohanty,R.P. (2005, January 1). Urbanisation, Street Children and their
Problems. Discovery Publishing House.
3) India Annual Report, UNICEF, New
4) One Way
Street. World Health Organisation.
5) Rao,S. (2012, November 19). Once
a Child Learn To Roam Street Freely, He Can Turn Beggar Or Thief By Habit.
6) Sharma Priyanka. (2017,March 12).
Increasing number of Delhi children take drugs with some as young as 12 using
HEROIN despite living at home. Mail
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Andrabi Jalees. (2009,January 18). Beggar mafia thrives on lost children. The National. Retrieved from https://www.thenational.ae/world/beggar-mafia-thrives-on-lost-children-1.547033 on 8 February 2018.