Officials of the forest department of Tamil Nadu has rescued a baby monkey from the clutches of a begging racket at the famous Marina beach in Chennai. Two kids who were using the monkey to beg gave a slip to the team of wildlife officials and the police.
The rescued baby monkey belongs to the species Bonnet macaques (Macaca radiate) and is covered under Schedule II (Part I) of the wildlife protection Act of 1972.
Forest officials said that people who are found in possession of these monkeys are liable to be punished for a period of 3 years in prison and a penalty of Rs 25,000 for first-time offenders and for regular offenders, imprisonment can go up to 7 years with penalty.
There were complaints from regular beachgoers that children and monkeys were being used for begging and that there seems to be an organised racket behind this.
Sundararajan, a software engineer who regularly spends his evenings at Marina beach after it was opened, told IANS, “Children come here seeking alms and they catch hold of our legs and don’t go away unless we pay them. This seems to be not natural and the police patrol team intervenes only if we lodge a complaint. Children are seen with baby monkeys which do not even look up due to poor feeding.”
Forest officials said that the baby monkeys are caught using traps from the forest areas of Tamil Nadu including Nilgiris and brought to Chennai for begging.
A senior police officer with the Marina beach police station told IANS, “We detained a few children a few days back but they were pleading and crying. There has to be a proper investigation to get to the bottom of this racket and unless it is done, things will continue like this.”
However, child rights activists said that police and the begging mafia are hands in glove and there seems to be a cut for the local police to continue their begging unhindered.
Jossey Jose, a child rights activist working among children, told IANS, “The police is looking the other way as there seems to be a nexus between the police and the begging mafia. Kids are mostly from north Indian states and as we had warned earlier, the pandemic has increased the flow of children to south Indian states or rather illegal migration of children, and unless a properly organised crackdown is implemented, this will continue.”