Mumbai Police has launched the 'Zero Beggars' drive in an attempt to make the city begging free. Under this drive, all police stations in Mumbai have been asked to track beggars and keep them at a special home in Chembur after testing them for COVID-19 infection.
The drive to rid Mumbai of beggars will be carried out throughout the month of February according to the directions of Joint Commissioner of Police Vishwas Nagre Patil under the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959.
DCP (PRO) S Chaitanya told India Today, "Begging is a social crime. All police stations have been instructed to detain these beggars, take permission from the court, conduct their COVID-19 tests and then lodge them at the beggars home."
Another police official said that the motive behind this drive to end the abominable practice of people forcing children to beg on streets, adding that begging gives a bad image to India's financial capital.
While the intentions behind the anti-begging drive seem to be noble, experts and activists have raised questions on adequate space to accommodate beggars in the Chembur home and further rehabilitation.
Senior advocate and activist Abha Singh said, "Will this drive end begging in Mumbai? For how long will the beggars' home keep them? Is there a plan to rehabilitate them? The police can implement the law but what next. There should be a plan to eradicate begging and it should not be a token drive."
The Mumbai Police identified 14 beggars and sent them to a beggars' home in Chembur as of Friday. The Brihanmunbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) identified approximately 29,000 people including women and children engaged in begging in the city in November 2020.