Parents duped, kids forced into begging

Kathmandu, August 11:

Sushmita Tamang, 12, was brought to Kathmandu by a child welfare centre, promising education and better life for her. But instead, she was forced into begging.

Sushmita is among the 13 kids belonging to a Tamang community in Rasuwa, who were forced into begging by the centre at Swoyambhu before an NGO rescued them today. Apart from being forced to beg, they were being physically abused as well. The centre — Bal Kalyan Kendra — had brought them from Gatlang VDC some six months ago after charging their families up to Rs 20,000.

Sushmita said her parents sent her and her two younger brothers — Bhutta (10) and Jairam (8) — with the hope that they could live a better life in the city. Though they were enrolled in the Public English School at Swoyambhu, they were rarely allowed to go to the school, according to Sushmita. “I used to go to Swoyambhu, Balaju and nearby places to beg money and vegetables and give the money to the Kendra every day”, she said.

“They used to provide us very little food to eat. Mostly it was beaten rice,” she said. “Due to hunger, some of us even used to steal food from street vendors.”

If they committed mistakes, Sujana, the in-charge of the Kendra would thrash them and force them to sleep with empty-stomach, according to Sushmita. Bhim Tamang, 12, showed burn injury in his right hand. Bipin Tamang, who sent two of his nieces, to the Kendra by paying Rs 15,000, feels cheated. He said they should be provided with proper compensation.

Deepak Pun Magar, coordinator of the team of Nepal Women Children and Human Rights Forum that rescued the kids, said the kids would undergo medical tests tomorrow and the Forum would fight for justice for them. The Kendra manager could not be contacted for comments.

Dharma Shrestha, executive director of Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB), said, the Forum rescued the kids without following a due procedure. He said a case should have been made first against the Kendra before acting against it. Still, the board would probe the case and try to rehabilitate the kids and ensure their rights, he added. The board stated there are 454 child welfare centres in the country and almost half of them (43.62 per cent) fall under category D, which do not even have the minimum requirements.