Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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25000 beggars in maha kumbh

Commissioner Devesh Chaturvedi called a high-level meeting of district and mela officials the other day  to keep the Mela-visiting beggars under control. It was revealed that some 25,000 beggars would be present in the Mela this year. That is a big number. The authorities are planning to arrange for their accommodation. All that is good and also commendable! After all beggars are the biggest destitute of society, or so it is believed.

But who will guarantee that all beggars thronging the Mela are indeed beggars?  How can one be sure that some anti-social elements, even terrorists , will not disguise themselves as beggars? I recall watching the classic movie ‘Kismat’ in which Ashok Kumar plays the role of a pickpocket. As soon as he spots the ‘Inspector Sa’ab’ coming in his direction, he instantly sat on the ground, covered himself with a blanket and started begging, saying, ‘Maalik...’ The very tough Inspector, does not even look at him but throws a coin in his hands, while keeping himself busy in lighting his cigar!
I may recall for the benefit of the officials a  stunning scene that I witnessed in Civil Lines on one afternoon. A beggar with wounds all over his body, some bleeding, was lying on the roadside, his head touching the ground. He was moving his head right and left as he pathetically begged for alms. And people were throwing coins on the cloth he was lying upon, stare at him in pity and move on. This man would not even glance at the coins but would go on turning his  head, rather banging it on the floor,. Right and left. I was watching the scene from a close distance and was wondering why no one had thought of shifting this beggar in agony to a hospital as Mother Teresa would have done.  Then suddenly it started raining. The beggar wouldn’t stop. My curiosity had the better of me and I decided to see what he would do, who will escort him from there. Soon the rain started pouring in torrents. It is then that the beggar got up, looked this side and that. Assured that none was watching him, this beggar took out a cloth from his bag, wiped his wet face and body to remove all the wounds that had been cleverly made up artificially. This is not all. He took out jeans from his bag and a bush-shirt, combed his hair stylishly and then walked away with all the coins like a hero


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