The clean-up drive by the Navi Mumbai police on Tuesday, against beggars, could well be termed as a one-time show. Although beggars were seen roaming at various places in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday, no action was taken against them, unlike Tuesday. Senior police officers, however, claimed that there were no beggars in the entire city on Wednesday.
Police detained around 100 beggars including 40-45 children in the city on Tuesday. The adults were booked under sections 5 and 10 of the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959. They were later sent to a beggars’ home in Chembur. Those aged between 6-18 were sent to a remand home in Bhiwandi, and those below the age of 5 were sent to another centre in Ulhasnagar.
The activists in the city though, are not satisfied with the move. “Before sending the children to remand homes, they should have been given a chance to speak to their parents or their relatives.
There are many NGOs in Navi Mumbai who are working for such children, but the police did not bother to speak to them,” said Shobha Murthy, founder of an NGO, Aarambh.
“By taking such haphazard action, the police won’t get any clue about the begging rackets in the city. Also, children from across Mumbai come to beg in Navi Mumbai. Now, how a mother from Ghatkopar would know that her child has been picked by the Navi Mumbai police and has been put in a remand home in Ulhasnagar. It will be harassment on poor families, who don’t have access to lawyers and are not educated to approach the higher authorities. Now, the only thing they can do is to visit the nearest police station and register a missing person’s case. So the police will achieve nothing from it,” she said.
“Secondly, those aged between 5 to 18 will mix up with dangerous criminals in the remand home and will not learn anything positive in the time that they are there. Thus, the police are also inadvertently creating anti-social elements by taking such steps. It’s good that they have done something to do away with the beggars, but the way they did it cannot be appreciated,” said Rushika Mhatre, another activist.