Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 24:
In a shocking incident, Commissionerate Police of Odisha capital last evening arrested a former model for engaging minors from a Bhubaneswar based slum in a begging racket and extorting money from them.
If begging and extorting were not enough, he encouraged dendrite (an adhesive with intoxicating properties) sniffing and facilitated them to the kids.
The accused model, identified as Jitu Patnaik, walked the ramp alongside biggies such as Rahul Dev in his prime- back in the 90’s. Earned quite a bit of reputation too. However, his aspiration to make a career in modelling in Mumbai failed to take off as expected. Out of money and luck, Jitu returned back to Bhubaneswar struggling for every little thing and started the begging racket few years ago.
Initially, he managed to win the confidence of the impoverished kids and their kin by assuring to support them financially and promising to look after them. He then went on to train the kids on how to cry, act and beg properly in order to make more money.
As a daily ritual, Jitu used to pick the kids up from Saliasahi slum of Bhubaneswar every morning in his own vehicle and drop them at various temples, shopping malls, theaters and other busy junctions of the city asking them to beg. Then he met the kids once again in the evening to collect the money.
As per one of the rescued kids, he only provided them food and dendrite and that was all they got for their day long humiliating work. At least that is how the ritual went until yesterday, when locals took notice of his act and tipped off the cops.
“Acting on a tip-off, Commissionerate police arrested Jitu Patnaik last evening. We are investigating the matter to see if there are more people involved in the begging racket. Also, we are trying to figure out if he engaged more children in begging than we already know. We are taking both the begging racket and inebriation angle seriously and working to find out more information,” said Bhubaneswar DCP Satyabrata Bhoi.