The New Delhi Municipal Council has launched a crackdown on beggars outside Connaught Place’s Hanuman Mandir after receiving numerous complaints of harassment from shoppers and visitors.
The eviction drive, officials said, was launched 10 days ago with the help of Delhi Police. It first started in areas around Hanuman Mandir and State Emporia Complex located on both sides of Baba Kharak Singh Marg.
The joint teams of NDMC and Delhi Police have so far removed 300 vagabonds, beggars and drug-addicts, who had made pavements and subways near the temple and State Emporia Complex their home, said a senior Delhi police official.
“As many as 50 of them, who refused to leave and indulged in violence were taken into preventive detention under sections 107 and 151 of CrPC. They were later let off after a warning,” said RP Meena, additional deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi).
Social activists working for the homeless, however, said that the drive will have a temporary impact. “Homeless people are booked and arrested, but never rehabilitated properly. Therefore, they return to the same places where they were putting up before such drives,” said Sunil Kumar Aledia from centre for holistic development (CHD), an NGO that works with the shelterless.
“Sadly, the politicians use the homeless people only for votes. They do nothing for their welfare after elections,” Aledia added.
According to officials, joint raids are being conducted every day during the morning and evening hours. Apart from NDMC and police officials, paramilitary personnel have also been roped in to maintain law and order during the raids.
“We normally start around eight in the morning and raid four to five areas near Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Bangla Sahib Gurudwara for next two hours. The drive will continue because some of the drug addicts and beggars return despite being asked not to,” the officer said.
Officials said that their operation will cover other areas in and around Connaught Place.
NDMC chairperson Naresh Kumar said that areas around Hanuman Mandir and the State Emporia Complex witness huge footfalls of tourists as well as residents. “There have been complaints about nuisance and menace created by such people. So joint raids are being carried out,” Kumar said.