Scared and helpless, families of the four men, who were were picked up by the police from the night shelter at Bhikaji Cama Place, are back on the streets in the biting cold once again.
After their family members were taken away and those living at the shelter beaten up, many men and women have gone back to living under the flyover. While four of the six men have been released, two are still in custody.
“I have lived here since I was a child. All my five children were born here. Nothing of this kind ever happened when we were living on the streets. Living in the shelter has, ironically, proved unsafe for us,” said Sharda, 38, whose husband Gopal was picked up from the shelter by officers from the crime branch on Sunday night.
According to the police, the men who were rounded up are proclaimed offenders with many cases of theft registered against them. But the incident has left the inmates of night shelters a scared lot. “Even though four of them have been released, they were badly beaten up. What if they come again and do the same with us. We are sleeping here so that we can escape if they come again,” said Madan, who was sleeping under the Bhikaji Cama Place flyover.
More than the arrests, the manner in which the police officials rounded up the homeless and beat them up is being protested by those living in the night shelters. “First of all, my husband is not a criminal and even if he is ,there was no need to hit him and the others at the shelter,” said Munni, whose husband Ram Chand is still is the custody.
“This yearly exercise of the police to round up the poor before the Republic Day has to stop. Even the homeless have rights,” said Paramjeet Kaur, member, Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan, an NGO that runs night shelters around the city.