Mangaluru: ‘Udara nimittam, bahukrita vesham’, so goes a Sanskrit saying. Its gist is that for the sake of caring for the needs of ones’ stomach or to earn a livelihood, people can don any disguises or take up any roles.
The educated class has the capacity to earn a handsome salary on the basis of their qualification and competence. Some are not fortunate enough to be blessed with good education and hence they are forced to take up low-paying jobs.
Normally, anyone could take up a job that suits his or her qualification and earn a living to lead a peaceful life. But there are some who, without any inclination to put in any efforts, want to become rich by hook or crook. They adopt a far easier way to earn money. Although it is risky, the lack of fear of the law too helps them in their act.
They get involved in various crimes; some use fear tactics and get into extortion activity. Some turn into dons while some others contract killers.
There are also many who take up begging as their profession, as a short cut to big money. Sometimes, lack of skills could force persons to beg. If they are able to find an unskilled job even, they can earn and support their families.
Sometimes, children are forced into begging by the parents or caretakers. If they do not bring a certain amount of money by begging at the end of the day, they are often beaten and tortured.
Hence these children who are forced into begging do everything within their means – like harassing or pestering pedestrians and passersby – so that they can achieve the target and avoid the beating.
Recently, our district administration had announced its aim to make Dakshina Kannada a beggar-free district. But how is it possible to make the city or district beggar-free, if the concerned authorities are not serious enough?
If we go to the service bus stand, we can find a number of beggars running behind people and relentlessly begging until they are given what they want. There are also a number of children begging in Hampankatta and the Mangaluru Central railway station.
The beggars know that people give alms out of compassion while seeing someone suffer or being hungry. Professional beggars know exactly how to fool people and extract sympathy. There are couples begging on the pretext of medical treatment of the wife or husband.
There are others who come with printed appeals which mention that they have lost everything in the floods. Some act as if they cannot speak, and when they are given small change, they refuse to accept them and retort with abusive words.
Beggars come not only from our own city but from other districts and states too. There is even organized begging in operation. The ring-leaders take adults with strange deformities around and employ them in begging.
A case proving this point was noticed by a social activist here in Mangaluru. On April 29, around 1.30 pm our correspondent received a call saying that a begging racket had been operating in the city. Our team immediately reached the spot and also informed the police.
Our team spotted two persons, one on a wheelchair and another on a specially designed cart, pushed around by two others who appeared perfectly all right. Being aware of the racket, some in the crowd that had gathered were getting ready to assault the caretaker. Our correspondent intervened and averted an ugly situation.
Upon being informed, the caretaker said that they had come from Bihar. He mentioned his name as Imroj (28). He said that he had been into begging over the past year. The two handicapped persons were his cousins. When asked about more details, he said that a total of twelve had arrived from their native place.
Some keep begging near the Central railway station and some others at the State Bank bus terminus. He and a few others begged around Hampankatta. After much persuasion, he admitted to earning a minimum of Rs 2,000 in a day. At the same time, he made sure to reveal that the most part of it is remitted to his parents back home.
Social activist Shabbir says that around 9 am on April 29, a group of 7 people came near the vegetable market. “They started playing a recorded music tape, using speakers. People started to put money in their pot which had been placed in the cart. When the pot was filled, two people would come and take the pot replacing it by another empty pot for collection.”
“From 9 am till 1 pm,” says Shabbir further, “they filled three such pots and two people collected the filled pots, and their collection could be anything close to Rs 15,000 in a day.”
When they were begging near Felix Pai Bazar, our team reached the spot and called the police. When our correspondent sought the details of the handicapped persons who were on wheel-chairs, they said that they had their breakfast at 9 am, but had not received their meals till 2 pm.
Often there are these self-styled ‘beggar leaders’ who frame and enforce their own rules. There is no set rule to pay him only a fixed amount for his ‘leadership’. There are even beggar gangs whose operators take the lions’ share and distribute paltry sums among the members. The team of blind men and the team of transvestites belong to this category. The beggars at the railway stations and bus stands are normally dominated by thugs who run begging rackets.
The Bunder police soon arrived at the spot and took all the four into custody along with their collection. If we do not stop these professional beggars from entering our city, Dakshina Kannada will be a destination for interstate beggars.
People should wake up and stop giving alms to the beggars. Instead, inform the police or helpline or mangalorean.com. We will take up this issue.
Together we can make Mangaluru a beggar-free city and help make the dreams of our past leaders come true.