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Home > News > Report

Delhi to clear streets of beggars

Vicky Nanjappa in New Delhi | September 21, 2007 17:27 IST

Jails in the country being overcrowded are nothing new. However, in time to come, the same can be said about the beggar homes in the country too.

New Delhi for one will have the toughest time in handling this issue as there are 60,000 beggars on the streets.

With the Commonwealth Games soon approaching, the government has decided to clean up the streets. The government feels that beggars on the street will give the international community a wrong impression of the national capital.

The headache begins when the process to clear off beggars is set in motion.

At present there are over 1,400 beggars lodged in beggar homes across the country. With the cleaning up process likely to begin, the beggar homes in New Delhi is bound to get full. Authorities say that some of the beggars will be re-located to beggar homes in other states too if the need be.

In Delhi there are 12 beggar homes lodged in the outskirts of the city. At present in these homes there are around 230 beggars lodged, but officials claim that up to 1,500 beggars can be lodged.

While on one hand the government is adamant to clean up the system, activist groups such as Action Aid, has decided not take things lying down. The organisation says the process is inhuman as every one has a right to live.

The police add that begging is an offence under the Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, and hence, if anyone is caught begging, then action will have to follow.

However, the procedure is not as easy as picking up a beggar and then shifting him to the beggar home.

An arrest warrant has to be procured, following which the beggar is produced before the court.

The first-time offenders are let of with a warning, but in case the offence is repeated then beggars could face jail terms up to 10 years also.

There is also a special court to try such offences.

Raghubir, who is serving out a two-year sentence after he was found begging, complains about the facilities in the beggar home.

He says they have to sleep in pathetic conditions and the food is also not proper.

The beggar home authorities told on condition of anonymity that facilities are in place and the inmates were into the habit of complaining.

Says Vidhya Bhave, a human rights activist, "The first thing that ought to be done is to stop treating beggars as convicts. They are taken into remand homes so that they can be reformed and not punished."