Tuesday, July 27, 2021
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Mumbai beggars disappeared amid lockdown

Nearly 25 million Mumbaikars (including six million slum dwellers) and percentage of beggars in India approximately 4 to 5 lakhs. In different states of different types of poverty line in India. Despite India’s rapid economic growth in recent years, poverty and begging are still among the biggest issues in India. The poverty – You can even escape the clutches of Mumbai suburban rail network, but not the poverty. The worst thing about it is no government is doing anything to alleviate people from poverty and those who are poor are too reluctant to move out to other areas. According to the recent surveys, there are nearly 14,51,000 beggars in India. Comparing to last decade this number has gone up by 1 lakh. In Mumbai alone there are nearly 3,00,000 beggars. In Delhi 75% of the beggars are driven by extreme poverty. As several temples across Mumbai and Haji Ali mosque where hundreds of beggars reside , including the Mahalaxmi and Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai’s Dadar area have been closed due to the pan-India lockdown imposed in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak, it has left many beggars depending for alms at this temple, in a worst situation. Usually, thousands of beggars and people from outside who do not have any other place to reside gather at this temple and they are largely dependent on the food served here regularly. Now that the temple and worship places are shut due to the lockdown, devotees are not visiting here and the beggars are left with no source of food and money. Same is happening on signals, the beggars those beg around signals are almost vanished as the traffic soared due to lockdown. Even after the State government is working towards providing food to the needy people amid lockdown, the beggars over here are still forced to starve due to the unavailability of basic food and water in their area. However, sometimes the hapless beggars are lucky enough to feed themselves once in a day with the help of a few social workers, otherwise they are forced to sit outside the temple with empty stomachs.

There woes increase as police comes to shoo them away at night while they are sleeping. However, these beggars end up coming back at the same place outside the temple as they do not have any other place to reside. Many people who have been staying at this temple from a long time that they have been injured several times as the police beat them with sticks to shoo them away. Police officials are trying to make these people aware of maintaining social distancing and not to gather in the wake of coronavirus threat. In recent times number of women and child beggars is increasing astonishingly. This is because they are forced to do so by some big syndicate organizations the bizarre thing here is even police take their commission from these so-called syndicates. It’s estimated that there are around 500,000 beggars in India — half a million people! And, this is despite the fact that begging is a crime in most states in India.

While poverty is real, begging is quite often carried out in organized gangs. For the privilege of begging in a certain territory, each beggar hands over their takings to the gang’s ringleader, who keeps a significant share of it. Beggars have also been known to deliberately maim and disfigure themselves to get more money.In addition, many children are abducted in India and forced into begging. The statistics are alarming. According to the Indian National Human Rights Commission, up to 40,000 children are abducted every year. The whereabouts of more than 10,000 of them remain unknown. What’s more, it’s estimated that 300,000 children across India are drugged, beaten and made to beg every day. It’s a multi-million-dollar industry that’s controlled by human trafficking cartels. Police do little to address the problem because they often assume that the children are with family members or other people who know them. Plus, there are inconsistencies in the law on how to deal with child beggars. Many are too young to be punished.

Quite a bit of welfare work in India has been directed at reducing begging, including provided beggars with jobs, with varying degrees of success. The most common problem is that the beggars are so used to begging that they actually prefer not to work. In addition, many of them make more money from begging than what they would if they did work. Begging is most prevalent anywhere there are tourists. This includes important monuments, railway stations, religious and spiritual sites, and shopping districts. In big cities, beggars will often be found at major traffic intersections as well, where they approach vehicles while the lights are red. Some states in India have a larger number of beggars than others. However, as it’s difficult to determine who is a beggar, there are issues over the accuracy of data available. In Mumbai in particular, visitors are often approached by a child or woman wanting some powdered milk to feed a baby. They will assist you to a nearby stall or shop that conveniently happens to sell tins or boxes of such “milk”. However, the milk will be expensively priced and if you hand over the money for it, the shopkeeper and the beggar will simply split the proceeds between them. Beggars also rent babies from their mothers each day, to give their begging more credibility. They carry these babies (who are sedated and hang limply in their arms) and claim they have no money to feed them. We all know these beggars are mostly reside across footpaths or signals circles, but since lockdown no one of them seen around, wonder where they disappeared and who is sheltering them?

Also Read:

Exclusive: Where are the Mumbai beggars gone?

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Dr Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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