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The real Slumdog Millionaires: Behind the cinema fantasy, mafia gangs are deliberately crippling children for profit
So just who would chop off the leg of a healthy child? The boys are victims of India’s so-called ‘beggar mafia’ — criminals so violent and amoral that they are prepared to hack the limbs off children, as well as steal new-born babies from hospitals.
They use the children as begging ‘props’ to maximise their earnings from sympathetic passers-by.
Their suffering comes down to one thing: money. In a country of 1.2 billion people, where the gulf between rich and poor is vast, there are an estimated 300,000 child beggars.
By no means all are mutilated by the beggar mafia, but those with the worst injuries do make the most money — up to £10 a day for deformed children, a fortune in a country where millions survive on just a tenth of that.
‘The more a person is tortured or tormented, the more unfortunate he looks — all this will evoke more sympathy among the people who will then give them alms or gifts,’ he adds.
The shocking truth about the beggar mafia emerged last year. In what was dubbed the ‘arms for alms’ scandal, doctors were filmed by Indian journalists agreeing to cut off the healthy limbs of children for just £100.