A 25-member group from Rajasthan, including minor girls involved in allegedly duping tourists in the name of social help, was rescued by a voluntary organisation in Bodhgaya on Sunday.
The rescue effort was part of the Stop Begging campaign of the district administration initiated around the World Heritage Mahabodhi Mahavihara on Sunday. A non-government organisation, People’s First Educational Charitable Trust, is the partner in the campaign.
Trust chairman Deepak Kumar said: “Five minor girls were found by the members of our organisation. Papers were recovered from their possession on which it was printed that they were ‘residents of Ranipur village in Rajasthan and since they have lost their home and property in calamities, we request you to kindly help’.”
Moved by their plight, tourists often gave them something between Rs 50 and Rs 500. The amount of donation received was then written on a paper with signature of the person contributing towards the fund.
“Begging for alms in the name of help had become an avocation for these girls,” Deepak said.
Information regarding the girls was also passed on to Bodhgaya police station but no case has been lodged in this connection, said Rakesh Ranjan Mishra, a member of the trust, who was on the spot during the raids.
Additional district magistrate Dinesh Kumar, who was also present at the site, ordered that the girls should be taken to Rescue Junction, a centre of the organisation near Gaya station, where rescued children are counselled.
During the counselling, the girls revealed that they were a group of 25 members, all women.
“The other 20 members of the group was later brought to the centre,” said Rescue Junction in-charge Sunita Sharma.
The group comprised eight elderly women, possibly the mother of the girls, minors and adult girls.
During counselling, all of them admitted that they have been duping tourists in the name of social help. The minors were produced before child welfare committee president Manoj Kumar Sinha and members Anil Kumar and Shivdutt Kumar.
The committee asked the women and the girls to return home but made them fill up a bond that if they were caught again indulging in such activities again, cases will be lodged against them.