Strolling by the beach, walking in a lane, commuting in a train or stopping at a red light in practically any part of the city, you are bound to be interrupted and trailed by beggars, who won’t give up until you have parted with some change. It doesn’t help then that there was reduced action last year on the part of the authorities to free the roads of this harassment, as figures obtained from the police department reveal.
Therefore, the Mumbai police has hitched up its socks and asked all police stations to crack down on beggars and eunuchs stalking people. The direction follows dipping figures pertaining to the action taken for tackling the menace. The number of beggars arrested has dropped from 6,075 in 2011 to 5,473 in 2012. Of those arrested last year, only 2,025 were produced in court.
In a latest notice by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Enforcement) B G Shekhar, he has asked all senior inspectors to intensify action against beggars, minor children who are forced into begging, eunuchs and drug addicts. Speaking to MiD DAY, Shekhar said, “The action against beggars, eunuchs and druggists particularly went down in 2012 and we don’t want a repeat this year.” In 2012, of the 2,025 beggars produced in court, action was taken against 825 under various sections of the Bombay Police Act. As many as 59 were taken into custody from various religious places.
Whereas, the year before, the police had detained 6,075 people, of which 5,668 were produced in court. Action was taken against 994 under the Bombay Police Act. As many as 79 were picked up from religious premises. The DCP has identified areas like Mumbai Central, Nagpada, Byculla Bridge and religious establishments like Haji Ali Dargah and Siddhivinayak Temple as popular spots for beggars.
“Nowadays, spots like Bandra Bandstand, Girgaon and Juhu Chowpatty have also become hotspots for beggars as they get a good amount from tourists and couples, especially youngsters who do not want to be seen as stingy in front of their girlfriends,” said a senior police officer from the Mumbai police.
But there is a significant problem attached to taking action under the provisions of the law. Even if the police catch beggars, where would they keep them? For, the children’s homes in Dongri and Mankhurd are packed to capacity most of the time, and cops have to make alternative temporary arrangements for the beggar kids, like take them to NGOs.
Alms & The man
Spots like Bandra Bandstand, Girgaon and Juhu Chowpatty, Mumbai Central, Nagpada, Byculla Bridge and religious establishments like Haji Ali Dargah and Siddhivinayak Temple have become havens for beggars