Concentration camps of India

Updated on Apr 14, 2004 12:10 PM IST

Inmates of most beggar homes in India complain of being beaten or treated like slaves in captivity.

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PTI | ByPriyanka Khanna and Subrato De, Chennai

Seventy-year-old Saraswati (name changed) is mother of two sons who served the nation in the Army and a grandmother to a son in the Navy. Presently, however, she is an inmate in a beggars' home in Chennai and is ashamed of giving her real name lest her children find out. 

She says she came to Kerala on a pilgrimage to Rameswaram Temple in Ramnad and was rounded up by police with many others and whisked away in a van. The police took them all to a magistrate's house, where the magistrate looked at them from a window and sentenced them to a beggars' home in Chennai. "The magistrate could not possibly have seen us properly, as it was too dark and he was looking from a room which was lit brightly," she says.

Once in Chennai she pleaded with the home officials who told her appeal to courts in Ramnad. Last heard, the home officials were yet to come to decision as to who will bear the cost of travel from Chennai to Ramnad?

Saraswati was one among 74 others who were picked up from the vicinity of the Rameswaram Temple. Many of them say they were pilgrims and were wrongly apprehended. Others who admit they were begging for alms at the temple, however, decry the inhuman conditions in which they are housed.

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