February 27, 2016 11:42:33 pm
The poor and the homeless not only take to committing crimes like theft and robberies for survival, but they are also often victims of a vicious cycle of criminal activities, often by organised rackets, according to the police.
In police records, there are a number of cases in which petty crimes like theft, bag-lifting, chain-snatching, pick-pocketing have been committed by the poor and the homeless. In a majority of such cases, young boys start with petty crimes and later take to serious crimes, says a police inspector. “We have seen cases where young boys start with begging on the street and then begin committing theft. In some cases, they are forced into it. Some of them, when arrested, come in contact with hardened criminals and later start committing more serious crimes,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) P R Patil said, “On one side, there are cases in which poor and homeless commit crimes for money. But on the other side, they are also victims of crimes. We have seen cases where the homeless have been looted of the meagre belonging they have. Many of them die in road accidents. Then there are organised rackets forcing homeless children into begging and other things. These crimes too have a socio-economic side that we need to look at. Police look at such cases from humanitarian point of view.”
Recently, following inputs from Government Railway Police (GRP), the Pune police rescued a five-year-old boy who was being forced into a begging racket. Under the banner of operation Muskaan, both Pune police and the GRP have rescued homeless children and in many cases, have reunited them with their parents.
A senior police officer who has worked with both GRP and a city police station says, “Though it is predominantly an urban problem, it has roots in the failing rural economy. Most of the homeless are migrants who come to cities, don’t find work and are forced on live on streets. Have you ever asked who are the boys who are seen cleaning railway compartments and asking for money?”
The officer further says, “Some get addicted to drugs. To cater to their addiction, some start peddling drugs. Girls and women from this section of society are often trafficked to other places and forced into prostitution or labour work. Many are lured with jobs but end up in brothels. Though we rescue boys and girls from these places, they end up in the same situation after release from the observation homes. Government needs to take steps to solve the problem with socio-economic solutions.”
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