In what comes across as a quite an insensitive and insulting move, the newly appointed DGP Mahender Reddy has issued a circular on November 7 which states that : many beggars are begging alms in an indecent manner. They are also employing children and handicapped persons to solicit or receive alms at the main junctions of the road. Such acts are causing annoyance and awkwardness by exposing in an indecent manner to divert the attention of the vehicular traffic as well as pedestrians and public in general.
So in a prohibitory order the DGP announced the prohibition of begging alms and also employing children and handicapped in begging alms in public places and at the main road junctions in the city of Hyderabad by causing inconvenience, annoyance, danger and dafety of the vehicular traffic and pedestrians.
As a result of this beggars were rounded up from many parts of the city as part of the campaign #beggarfreecity. They are now being rehabilitated in Anand Ashram near the Hyderabad prisons. This initiative is being credited to the Prisons Department, GHMC and Police.
The release also mentioned that the order shall come into force from 6am on 08-11-2017 and shall remain in force for a period of two months i.e upto 6am hours on 07-01-2018 (both days inclusive) unless withdrawn earlier.
Another report in the BBC also mentions the department mulling giving a Rs 500 reward to citizens who help in identifying areas where the beggar problem exists to help make Hyderabad a beggar-free city.
This programme to make the city beggar-free comes at a very suspect time when Ivanka Trump, daughter of the US President Donald Trump will be coming to Hyderabad. India and US are joining hands to co-host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Hyderabad, scheduled to start on November 28 and the American delegation will be led by Ivanka.
While the police has denied Ivanka’s impending visit being a catalyst for triggering this programme, people have been criticising the law enforcement department for doing something like this. Some on social media congratulated the police for their efforts others, meanwhile, were apprehensive about the move and are saying that as soon as Ivanka leaves the situation will be back to what it was and so they urged the police to find a more permanent solution. They have strong reasons to say this because the same Hyderabad police had undertaken such an exercise when former US President Bill Clinton had visited the city in 2000.
Meanwhile, many of the inmates at Anand Ashram deny that they are beggars and called themselves homeless who were picked off the street when they were looking for shelter, while the police insists they were beggars.
These multiple accounts to the event is what is further increasing the curiosity of the people and not to mention, American media that has got a whiff of the things that are underway have played it up saying India is trying to mask its reality. Since the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ came out, a lot of foreigners associate the low standard of living shown in the movie with the country in general and now this move by the Hyderabad police comes out in bad taste.
It seems like a cleansing of sorts in order to push the overbearing problems of the city under the carpet while they put their best foot forward. Every time a VVIP is on tour in India, visit locations are spruced up, repair work is undertaken and more to show the country in the best light but once the event is concluded things go back to normal and all the dirt and din returns. And the same officials who made sure the city was spick and span now turn a blind eye to any kind of disturbance.
We had the Commonwealth Games in Delhi as a brilliant example of our double standards as the capital was improved upon infrastructure-wise on a war-footing to make sure our guests saw a clean and modern city whereas the truth was far from that.
No concrete measures have been laid in any state to lessen its problems and only stop-gap measures like these are employed in times of emergency. We will be pleasantly surprised if the Hyderabad police remains true to its word and ensures the beggars and homeless are kept off the streets even after the stipulated ban period. Then only can this be recognised as a just cause.