Drive against begging in Ludhiana mostly successful
However, outside shrines, they either run away or spend the day at other places only to return at morning or nightUpdated: Nov 22, 2020, 23:04 IST
The drive initiated by the police against begging has brought expected results at most of the crossroads of the city, but outside religious places, the beggars have learnt to trick the police: they either run away or spend the day at other places only to return in the morning and night to throng outside shrines for alms and food.
The police had nabbed 25 women who along with their children were begging on the crossroads a week ago, but released them with a warning.
Three women and their children who beg at Bhai Bala Chowk said they lived nearby and came there to clean windshields of cars in return for money. On being asked if the police didn’t deter them, the children said they would run in the streets on seeing the cops.
‘Have been begging for generations’
Women beggars said that begging had become difficult lately as the police personnel were on a lookout for them. Luxmi from Jalore in Rajasthan said that they were nomads and did not have permanent jobs or work for earning a livelihood, and were therefore dependent on alms. Mother to an infant, Luxmi said they had been begging for generations.
According to her, people often give more money and eatables to women with children, and that she makes somewhere between ₹250 to ₹300 a day. Earlier, there were more than 20 beggars in her area, apart from eunuchs, seeking money from commuters.
The police had initiated the drive in February this year and identified 1,170 beggars at 19 busy locations of the city. In one month, the number of beggars had dropped to 435. But the Covid-induced lockdown threw the drive off-track.
Shri Durga Mata Mandir near Jagraon bridge is a favorite haunt among beggars, as good Samaritans often distribute food and woollens among them. An elderly beggar Kedarnath said the police had been asking him to leave the place for the past few days, but he had nowhere to go at his age. He and other beggars spend the day hiding and return to the temple for food in the morning and evening, he added.
An eatery outside the temple is also contributing towards feeding the beggars. The eatery owner gives a discount on paranthas if they buy them for beggars.
Commissioner of police Rakesh Agrawal said they were working towards rehabilitation of beggars and making arrangements to send some of them to their native places.
He said they had chalked out a special plan to deter the problem: Beggars with disabilities will be shifted to shelter homes, children will be sent to child shelters; others who are fit will be asked to earn their living by working somewhere.
The commissioner added that the police had released a WhatsApp number (9115601159) and appealed to the people to share pictures of beggars along with their locations.