Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Anti-begging drive: Intent good, not measures

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana | Posted: July 14, 2014 12:30 am

Although the initiative by the district administration and Municipal Corporation to catch, feed, groom and counsel beggars in the city has been welcomed, it seems that the basic problem remains unsolved.

The majority of beggars caught by the administration teams since the drive started on June 7 were let off after procuring an undertaking from them that they would not beg again.

However, some of them were also sent back home and around eight were admitted to drug de-addiction centre for being addicted to tobacco, alcohol and cannabis.

Giving tough time to the staff of drug de-addiction centre at Red Cross Bhawan is around 40-year-old Surdas,who is blind and was admitted to the centre.

Now a source of headache for other inmates of the centre and staff members, the beggar with a dafli (small drum) in his hand starts singing and dancing at night asking staff to take him back to the place from where he was captured.

Talking to Newsline, Dr Sudha Vasudeva, heading de-addiction and psychiatric ward, said, “Surdas was a beggar left by district administration after anti-begging drive. He constantly sings and creates noise in ward, not letting other patients sleep. He urges us to leave him from where he was caught as his family is not aware of his whereabouts. Also, he says that it was through begging only that he fed his family.”

She added that “Surdas had no addiction but was slightly hypo maniac and his condition has improved after medication”. Similarly, two beggars, including a woman, were admitted to Civil Hospital after the drive on Saturday. “A total of eight beggars were admitted to the drug de-addiction centre out of which four ran away and they were not really addicts. Even we face shortage of beds when beggars who do not need admission are admitted here. For minor addictions of tobacco, cigarette, they can be treated without admission. They do not listen to us and create troubles like singing and jumping on bed,” said a source from the Civil Hospital.

Out of almost 116 beggars caught till now, around 38 were rushed back home to UP and Bihar while around four were caught begging again and handed over to police. Till filing of this report, eight beggars were at MC’s shelter home while the rest were freed after giving clothes, food and getting an undertaking from them that they would not beg again.

“Almost 66 beggars ran away or were taken by their families from MC shelter home. We are not sure if they will beg again or not. We called factory owners for providing them employment but that has not worked properly as it was planned,” said a source from MC.
A woman was also provided with a sewing machine after first week’s drive but the majority of beggars left after giving an undertaking.

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