The Indian capital will be made beggar free in the run up to next year’s Commonwealth Games, the authorities said on Tuesday while launching two mobile courts to prosecute beggars.
To begin with, citizens who spot beggars can reach the mobile courts through a control room. The courts will reach the spot and take away the beggars, Delhi Social Welfare Minister Mangat Ram Singhal said.
The minister launched the mobile courts to fast track cases against beggars, whose population in Delhi is estimated at over 100,000. Ten more mobile courts will be introduced soon.
Singhal said: “To make the national capital beggar free, we are taking many initiatives. One of them is the launch of the mobile courts. Before the 2010 Commonwealth Games, we want to finish the problem of beggary from Delhi.”
He said the two mobile courts – mini buses with five-six officials – would take rounds of the city. They would ensure that the Bombay Prevention of Beggary Act, 1961 is enforced strictly.
A control room is being set up to handle calls related to the mobile courts. A separate contact number would be announced in a few days.
After rounding up the beggars, the mobile courts would decide the quantum of punishment.
“Beggary is considered an offence and can lead to imprisonment for up to 10 years. Also, the nature of punishment depends on the old records of the beggar. If he or she is found to have been forced into beggary, then they would be given only counselling sessions,” added Singhal.
He clarified – those children caught begging would be sent to juvenile homes.
“We consider children innocent and the child beggars would be sent to care homes under the Juvenile Justice and Care Act and according to guidelines set by the Child Welfare Committee,” he said.
Adult beggars would be taken to 11 centres spread across the city. “About 2,180 beggars are living in these centres,” Singhal said.
Although there are no exact figures, it is estimated that Delhi is home to about 60,000 adult beggars. According to experts, nearly half of the 100,000 street children beg for a living.