Begging not a last resort, but a thriving profession

Begging not a last resort, but a thriving profession
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Old habits die hard so goes the saying. Beggars in the city have once again gone back to streets even after months of counselling and training in life skills at rehabilitation centres.

Hyderabad: Old habits die hard so goes the saying. Beggars in the city have once again gone back to streets even after months of counselling and training in life skills at rehabilitation centres.

The Telangana State Prison Department had picked up 13,319 beggars and enrolled them under the rehabilitation programme at Chanchalguda and Cherlapally Jail. But today, there are only 183 male inmates in Anand Ashram Chanchalguda Central Jail and 29 female inmates in Cherlapally Central Jail.

It was during Ivanka Trump's visit to the city in 2017 that a major drive was undertaken and beggars were picked up and taken to the jails for rehabilitation. The momentum lost its sheen over the last two years.

Jail officials say that beggars are so used to making easy money that they do not want to work for a living. Subash Kotagiri, Jailor at Chanchalguda Central Jail, put the total admissions at the centre at 8,368. "Of them, 8,185 males (beggars) were counselled and some of them were handed over to their family. Some are provided employment, and a few other sent to the government hospital for better treatment. Right now there are only 183," he informed.

In spite of learning a trade, most of them revert to begging. Speaking to Hans India, M Sampath, the Superintendent of Special Homes, Chanchalguda Central Jail, says, "The beggars are brought to Anand Ashram through regular drives and daily around 10-15 beggars are picked from the twin city and brought to the Ashram. They are taught tailoring, and embroidery. Recently, incense sticks making for inmates were started in collaboration with Jan Shikshana Sansthan."

Y Rajesh, the Superintendent, Cherlapally Jail, said: "If they are not willing to stay here, we cannot force them, as it is only rehabilitation center. We counsel them and hand them over to their family members. Those who are mentally challenged, physically handicapped and those who want to lead a better life like to stay here and get treated."

By T P Venu & Meghna Nath

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