What about the beggars?

What about the beggars?

What About The Beggars? KCR and Naidu have unveiled populist schemes for every section of the poor.

KCR and Naidu have unveiled populist schemes for every section of the poor.

They are just about every place – road signals, religious places, bus & railway stations, parks, tourist spots, outside hotels and malls.

HC orders crackdown on begging mafia

Directs police to collect all related details

It’s 9 am, and IT Professional Kamran Ahmed driving his Honda Accord on the busy Paradise-Begumpet road on way to his office in Madhapur, comes to a halt at the Paradise traffic intersection. As he waits, sitting in his car, for the traffic signal, he is badgered by a horde of unkempt haggard looking beggars screaming at the top of their voices, “Ayya, papa ki pala chukka ledhu ayya. Oka rupaiaya danam cheseko ayya” (Sir, the child is crying for milk, please give one rupee, Sir).”

After a while, the beggars switch over to Hindi, “Saab, ek rupaiya de do, bachcha ko bookh lag raha hai.” (Give me one rupee, my child is feeling hungry).

Sounds familiar? Does it? Well, this is a common sight at all busy traffic signal intersections and the trend seems to evolve with each passing day. Today, one can find them at just about every place; from religious places to bus and railway stations, theatres, shopping malls, hotels, parks, flyovers, etc.

Most of the motorists, who wait impatiently revving up their engines for the traffic signal to light up, are not touched by the persistent pleas of the beggars. Some tuck into their pockets and hand over a few rupees to the persistent beggar, while others give a smirking look to show their annoyance. Day in and day out this drama is replayed and quite often with enormous success.

Governments turn a blind eye

Governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, which are seemingly interested in implementation of populist schemes, have turned a blind eye towards these beggars. They have waived crop loans, offered pensions and even made provisions for allotting 2BHK flats. The governments which are keen to take a burden of thousands of crores for populist measures fail to recognise that beggars have to be rehabilitated under article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Time and again the labour department has organised drives to end begging and rehabilitate beggars. But, these drives haven’t yielded desired results. Off late, these have become more of an annual PR exercise.

Tormenting tourists

Tourists are worst hit with the beggar menace. They not only harass the tourists for alms, but lately, this harassment has turned into torment.

The beggars somehow escape the eyes of the police department at the many historical places, and literally chase tourists, some even running after the auto-rickshaws ferrying them. Tourists are chased even inside AP Tourism buses.

As many as 400 to 500 foreign visitors come to see the Charminar each day, making it the preferred destination for tourists and beggars alike.

Sandeep Shukla from Rajasthan says, "I came here to see the historical city and had stopped at the Charminar along with my family and my friend who is a native here. The moment I stepped out of the car, I was surrounded by beggars, who did not let me go till I gave them some money."

Vandana, a beggar, claims that if she targets foreign tourists she gets more money, adding that she earns Rs 300-400 a day, and sometimes tourists even hand her foreign currency.

High Court cracks whip

On Monday, the High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Kalyan Jyothi Sengupta and Justice Sanjay Kumar ordered the police to inquire into the issues of child beggars. This order was issued with respect to a petition filed by the G Bhargavi, president of Garib Guide, an NGO that works for alleviation of the poverty.

In the petition, Bhargavi demanded to rescue the children who are forced into begging and who are trafficked. “Every year about 60,000 children are kidnapped and trafficked. The children carried by the beggars aren’t their children. In most cases the limbs of the children are ripped and are fed with narcotics so that they can entice sympathy from the on-goers,” said Bhargavi.

She also demanded that beggars should be relocated and rehabilitated. “Beggars should be rehabilitated and the State should take the responsibility. The new State of Telangana should be free of beggars,” Bhargavi stated in the petition.

Acting on the HC’s directive, police top brass reportedly ordered the officers in the 60 police station limits to find out and prepare a database of how many beggars are there? Where are they from? Who are there with them? Where do they beg? Are they being forced to beg? Are the kids, biological off-springs of women who carry them in their arms?

DGP of Telangana, Anurag Sharma, was the first to crackdown on the begging mafia and child trafficking, while he was the Hyderabad commissioner. He even ordered to perform DNA tests for the beggars to check if the babies they carried were biologically theirs. With the HC’s recent directive along with the police all the other related departments are gearing up to crack down on the issue that has been plaguing the city for quite a while.

“We have rescued 80 children and have sent then to rehabilitation centre last year. Cracking down on the begging mafia is the prerogative of the police; law says that MRO has to take the initiative. In the wake of the HC order, we will do everything within our limits to curb the activity,” said Gangadhar, assistant labour commissioner, Hyderabad.

NGOs say that begging mafia is violating child rights. “Police and child labour department are not taking any action until court directs.

Now with the HC directive they have to realise that it is their duty that no child should be on street begging,” said Anuradha Rao, president, AP Balala Hakkula Sangham.

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