- Until now, 6,605 beggars were brought to the Anand Ashram on the Chanchalguda prison premises.
- A unique rehabilitation programme that ended up transforming many lives.
The Telangana State Prison Department’s initiative to end the menace of beggars in Hyderabad, which began last year, has successfully completed a year on Saturday.
Until now, 6,605 beggars were brought to the Anand Ashram on the Chanchalguda prison premises. Of them, 6,411 were rehabilitated and also handed over to their families. Currently, there are 194 male beggars who are accommodated in the ashram.
Talking about the success of the initiative, VK Singh, Director General of Prisons and Correctional Services, said though he had worked in other departments, it was this initiative that gave him much satisfaction.
“I have been able to provide food, shelter and rehabilitation to the deprived and the underprivileged. Even after seven decades of Independence, our society had not been able to provide basic needs to them,” Singh said
Officials said the successful tackling the problem of begging in Hyderabad was the result of a better co-ordination between the Prisons Department, GHMC and the Police.
“When we started off, we faced many questions from people. They doubted us asking how this could be possible. We have now proven all of them wrong. In the last one year, we have also treated and re-habilitated many,” Singh added.
The department has spent Rs 1.74 crore towards the initiative. Things including clothes, food and other necessities were taken care of. With the success of the initiative in the capital, Singh had also written to District Superintendents of Police and other senior officials across the State to identify such beggars and send them to Hyderabad for rehabilitation.
Prison officials said the beggars being rehabilitated were provided with Aadhar Card and bank accounts. And those who are healthy were helped to get loans and jobs as per their skills.
A total of 34 persons were given Rs 1,000 each for giving genuine information on beggars in the last one year. The system will continue, officials said.
Singh said he had requested the government to set up of Anand Ashrams across the State.
“Most of the beggars found are not from the city. They come from various districts and beg here for about two hours. By the time we get information and our teams reach the spot, they are off to their native places,” he said.
Anand Ashram: A boon for the homeless
Almost a year ago, when Ivanka Trump was days away from visiting Hyderabad, a cleanliness initiative by authorities here started making headlines.
Hyderabad was supposedly being cleared of beggars, said posts on social media and in mainstream media too. And for the next few days, every shabby-looking homeless person was literally picked up off streets. However, it wasn’t a heartless clean-up drive as many made it out to be, but a unique rehabilitation programme that ended up transforming many lives.
A year later, on this one-of-its-kind initiative’s first anniversary, Telangana Today spoke with a few inmates of the Anand Ashram at Chanchalguda Prison.
“I was gambling on the streets when the police picked me up. I was scared they would punish me but they instead brought me here. It is very comfortable here and I get to wear clean clothes. I’ve been learning how to cut hair here so I’ll probably become a barber when I am let free,” said 22-year-old Kranti, in the Ashram for three months now.
60-year-old Ajay has picked up gardening as a hobby
“I ended up on the streets after months of unemployment. My health was bad and did not have fresh clothes. But here, they gave me clean clothes, a bed and food to eat. They let me go after 8 to 10 days but I couldn’t find any work and did not want to end up on the streets again, I returned and they welcomed me back. I attend the classes where they teach us to read and write in English and Telugu. I am also responsible for watering the plants,” said Ajay.
However, a few others, like Santosh Shetty 55, are in the Ashram for almost a year now, still not ready to embrace the outside world.
“He was working in Dubai when an unfortunate legal goof-up caused mayhem in his life. He lost his passport and job and was forced to return to India. We found him doing odd jobs and he’s been here ever since,” said Dr Ali who counsels the inmates.
“My family still doesn’t know that I stay here. They think I am in Bombay, working. I have nothing now. But I am happy here. This initiative is truly unique. Nowhere have I seen this kind of support from the government. When I leave, I will go to my family in Mangaluru,” said Santosh.
Courtesy: Telangana Today