English-speaking beggars on prowl | delhi | Hindustan Times
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English-speaking beggars on prowl

delhi Updated: Oct 02, 2008 11:01 IST
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They come to you dressed in rags but will take you by surprise with their perfect accent and mastery of the Queen's language as you walk through Connaught Place in the heart of the national capital.

They are the modern English-speaking beggars who would not ask for money or food but will hit at your conscience by asking you to buy them medicines which they "badly need".

While some pay few rupees to get away, many got cornered by the "emotional blackmail" and would actually agree to buy the medicine provided they do it themselves.

And so, the beggars take their "unsuspecting victims" to the nearby chemist's shop from where they buy the medicines. Overwhelmed by the feel-good factor of having helped their fellowmen in need, the victims walk away with a clean conscience little did they know that they are duped.

"That's exactly how I felt. But somehow, I suspect later that something was amiss. When inquired, I found out that the shopowner has a tie-up with the beggars. Their modus operandi -- the beggars brought back the medicine intact and get half the money of the cost price from the chemists," Ajit Dubey, a marketing executive and a victim of such a trap, said.

"I spent Rs 270 to buy one fellow an inhaler but later the guards nearby said the beggar usually makes a fool of foreigners by his sob stories and many even take out money from the ATM to give him," Dubey said.

The amount of money these beggars make from their deceptive games of fooling foreigners can be gauged from the number of vagabonds flocking to small-time money-exchange shops in the vicinity.

Raju, an attendant at a nearby petrol pump, throws some light on the background of the new-age beggars.

"They are not from here but from outside Delhi who are now living here for the last one year or two. I don't know how they came here or why but yes, they do make a lot of money," he said.

Another shopper and his wife who had parted with Rs 100 to buy a strip of diabetes medicine for a lady beggar said, "When they come to you speaking English asking not for money but things like medicine and food, it really hurts. She sounded like a person of good roots with destiny playing a cruel game on her."