1. Leprosy Affected Women Beggars In Ulhasnagar
Try visiting Ulhasnagar (East) Railway Station’s Ticket House and nearby you will see a group of old leprosy affected women beggars. These homeless, illiterate and old women beggars are infected with a curable disease called LEPROSY. Ticket house’s corner pole is their permanent address and a fixed begging spot. They’re forced to beg from dawn to dust just to survive and manage costs of their medicines.
I tried speaking to one of them and she briefly narrated her story to me. She said I’m originally from Kolhapur district of Maharashtra. When I was young, I fell in love of a boy and got married to him against the will of my family. We both ran from village and came to Mumbai in search of new life and employment. We got work at a construction site near Mumbai and somehow managed to settle in a completely new city. Few years of my life was very good but later I witnessed worst tragedy of my life. My husband was killed in a train accident and I was left with no one. I never dared to return to my village just to avoid harsh consequences of my past actions. Later I entered in a flesh trade business and made my living. Today I’m old, helpless and ill just waiting to die. At least I’ll meet my husband in heaven. After a silence of few seconds tears rolled down her face and she looked at me. I felt sad for her, respecting her womanhood I gave Rs.10/- and quickly boarded train for Kalyan.
Indian Government and NGOs are running many programmes for the betterment of beggars and orphan street kids. Free education, meals and medical facilities are offered to them at all government sponsored hospitals. Yet beggars don’t take advantage of these facilities. Experts say, beggars most of them who are young kids and older women purposely don’t treat themselves. Since a cured beggar gets less sympathy of people which also means less or no daily income. Hence only opportunities giving better employment, income, pension and not NGOs’ programmes alone can solve miseries of beggars in India.
Statistics indicate that most of them are habitual beggars, each beggar operates only in a specific area, and some underground gangs do control, recruit, train, appoint and collect ransom from new beggars. There are even known cases of human rights violation as babies are rented to beggars on hour's basis and orphan kids are even physically assaulted to make them handicap and force to beg. Most Indian beggars always concentrate around temples, railway stations, public gardens and tourist places. It is hard to accept but it is very much true that a government holiday is also a holiday for professional beggars. In some areas they have their own unions and even union leaders. Is begging turning into a business of a particular class?