CHENNAI: As part of the special drive, 'Operation New Life', Tamil Nadu Police rescued 1,800 persons who were found begging on the streets. Police said that the drive was conducted over the weekend, and about 726 persons were rescued on Saturday and the remaining persons on Sunday.
Police said that the drive was initiated after Karur district administration on Friday, rescued a 67-year-old mentally ill person, who was being projected as ‘Vibhuthi Siddhar by a group of persons for collecting money from the public. The four-member gang who was arrested by the police had taken the mentally ill man to an unused plot and put him up in a shed and projected him as a Siddhar.
Subsequently, police were instructed to rescue beggars and find if they were forced into begging by racketeers, especially children. According to a police official, cops were asked to not disturb those staying in temples and mosques and physically challenged persons.
In Chennai, as part of the special drive, police rescued 15 children. They were produced before the juvenile committee and then after enquiries, eight of them were handed over to the parents, who were counselled to not force their children to beg. Seven children were sent to a government home and four women who used children to beg were also admitted to government home for women, police said.
In an official statement, Chennai Police warned that strict action will be taken against persons who involve children in begging.
Tambaram City Police rescued 207 persons on Saturday while 190 persons were rescued in Kancheepuram district, followed by the Government Railway Police, who rescued 139 persons.
Police said that about 50 persons have their own houses and they are purportedly involved in begging at traffic junctions. They were let off with a warning.
Of the 1,800 people, 953 people were sent to privately run NGOs in various towns and cities, 255 people were admitted to the government homes and 367 others were handed over to their families. Twenty seven juveniles who were rescued during the operation were produced before the juvenile justice board (JJB) authorities and were later kept at the juvenile home for orphaned children.
Police appealed to the public to tip off about organized beggary rackets forcing children and youths on the landline at 044-28447701. The tip will be kept confidential and the public will also be rewarded, police said.