With the azaan at 4.30 am, all comes to life in and around the magnificent Jama Masjid in Delhi. The hustle-bustle of the colourful Meena Bazaar, the glittering stalls and hundreds of people walking and prattling is a captivating sight. But what is overlooked are the hundreds of homeless children living in inhuman conditions in the lawns adjoining the mosque.
These children mostly belong to neighbouring states. While some came to the city in search of work, others ran away from their homes to avoid studies. The rest are orphans. These children are often found picking garbage from bins in the hope of finding some leftovers, the older children bullying and beating the younger ones, hurling the vilest of abuses and snatching away their food and belongings.
Ironically, in God’s own abode, the rule of the jungle prevails. The few dedicated NGOs that work in the area provide basic necessities like meals, clothes and toys. But they have their limitations. They dutifully impart primary knowledge to this unruly and disinterested lot of children, but fail to infuse in them the essence of humanity, civility and brotherhood sans which the children might at the most become literate but not educated.
Because of the unhealthy conditions and unavailability of proper food and medication, these children suffer from one or the other internal or external diseases. To make things worse, the local drug peddlers have lured some gullible minds. Penniless, hungry young girls are forced into prostitution by the local dictator-duo named Faujia and Parveen. The sheer enormity of these children’s woe is beyond the comprehension of the privileged lot and an exact picture of their anguish and destitution can never be painted on paper.
It’s strange that what calls for the immediate attention of so many NGOs, fails to grab the government’s attention, thus defeating the idea of a socialist State. In troubled times, when help from all quarters fails to reach us, we are left with no option but to turn to God. Thus, I saw a blind child near the masjid, who unlike all other beggars begging for money, stood facing the bright sky with the loose end of his tattered kurta in his hands and chanting ceaselessly “Allah rehem, Allah rehem (Lord have mercy).”