A street child rolls on the Pavement while begging. Photo: Republica
POKHARA, Jan 25: Street children, including some from India, have been found to have created nuisance for tourists in Pokhara's Lakeside. They beg and run after tourists until some money is dropped off, and this ugly practice is sure to demotivate tourists to prolong their stay in Pokhara, and that too while Visit Nepal 2020 is ongoing, according to businesspersons.
"Children throw tantrums for money. They beg and if money is not given right away, they hold on to the tourists' legs, not letting them move forward. If nothing works, some even try to snatch away purses. This is so disgusting," said Chiranjivi Pokharel, chairperson of Pokhara Tourist Council.
"This is a kind of terrorism in one of the topmost tourist destinations in the country," he added.
Children are indeed seen on the footpath alongside the Fewa Lake. Some others wait for the tourists at the entrance. Quite a few sit for begging in the market too.
According to Pokharel, there must be over 15 such children begging in this fashion, and they are rather from outside Pokhara or Kaski district.
"Those children are not from Kaski or Pokhara. Some of them are Indians. And some are from the Tarai districts. We know this much," he said, "And they are below 18 years of age."
Police Inspector Buddhisagar Puri admits that children beg around Lakeside and this has troubled the tourists. He stated that police tried to chase the kids away, but to no avail.
"We chase them away but they are back the very next day. They have given us a headache," he said. "Tourists indeed feel so awkward. The problem is really serious," he added.
According to Puri, some of the children are involved even in crimes. Recently a child was caught in connection with the theft of a scooter and later it came to the fore that 'begging was his part time job'.
"We then sent him to a child rehabilitation center," said Inspector Puri.
According to chairperson of the Far western Regional Office of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), Hari Bhujel, delay in addressing the issue of the beggars on the street is going to cost a lot for Pokhara.
The problem has to be solved without delay or else more children will come from different parts and even beyond the border, he warned.
"The authorities must realize the urgency to handle it. The children should be removed from there. Or else, more children will come. Many more will come from India, even now there are many Indians," he said, adding that the children are learning to earn a living by begging and this is a very wrong message.
Meanwhile, mayor of Pokhara Lekhnath Metropolis, Man Bahadur GC, stated that the children will be taken to rehabilitation centers. On Friday, GC held a meeting at the metropolis over the issue.
"Some rehabilitation centers have already agreed to take those children in. They won't be seen around the lake anymore," said Mayor GC.
Himalyan Life Nepal has agreed to take the children in.