Vishrantwadi, 11th January 2024: In a surprising revelation, the beggars’ home on Alandi Road in Phulenagar, Pune, currently hosts 23 residents, and none of them are beggars from the city itself, but rather all from Mumbai. Officials and activists are questioning this trend, with an official from the home citing recent actions by the Pune police as the reason.
The official stated, “We have refrained from admitting any beggars due to actions taken by the Pune police in recent times.” According to staff at the facility, the last intake of beggars from Pune was on June 6, 2023, when six individuals were brought from the Shivajinagar area.
Dr. Abhijeet Sonawane, who leads the Social Health And Medicine (SOHAM) Trust for beggar and homeless rehabilitation, estimates that around 1,100 beggars in Pune require assistance, though observers believe the actual numbers might be higher.
The superintendent of the beggars’ home, SP Sangale, explained, “We receive our inmates from the police, who catch beggars and present them before the court. The court then directs the police to transfer these individuals to the home.”
Run by the state government, the facility has the capacity to accommodate 100 men and 15 women. Sangale emphasized the focus on teaching inmates skills like broom making, plastic flower garland crafting, and stitching, aiming to provide them with opportunities for a dignified livelihood instead of begging.
Sangale confirmed, “The last beggars from Pune city arrived in June 2023. Since then, we have not received a single beggar from the city police. Our facility, designed for rehabilitation, is nearly empty.”
DCP (Crime) Amol Zende acknowledged the police’s efforts in apprehending beggars, revealing that 63 were caught last year, including during the G20 meet hosted by the city. However, a puzzling factor emerges as the beggars don’t seem to end up in the dedicated home.
A senior police officer pointed out, “Many beggars these days hire lawyers to argue that they are not begging but selling trinkets at traffic lights for a living. Consequently, they are released.”
Senior Police Inspector Bharat Jadhav of the social security cell of Pune city police emphasized the importance of recording proof before taking action against beggars, using videos as evidence in court.
Despite ongoing efforts to address the issue, the condition of several beggars in the city remains unimproved, leaving questions about the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs.