Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took to twitter on Friday to criticise his own government's Social Welfare Department and it's minister Sandeep Kumar for the "inhuman" and "futile" plan to execute an anti-begging drive in the capital.
Kejriwal's tweet was aimed at distancing himself and the party from the criticism generated by the anti-begging drive as activists slammed the proposal saying that rehabilitation programs should be introduced before any such drive is conducted.
His tweet referenced a Deccan Chronicle news report that indicates the plan to execute a 10-day drive where beggars will be picked up and sent to the Reception-cum-Reclassification centre in Kingsway camp in north Delhi. "The metropolitan magistrate would then decide if the beggar would be sent to a remand home or be let off with a warming," the report said.
In preparation for the drive, it had formed 10 teams for the 10-day project and in the event that a beggar is convicted, he or she would be sent to a home in Lampur in northwest Delhi, the report added. The Centre last year suggested that Delhi has more than 2,000 beggars, while India as a whole has 4 lakh beggars, according to a report by the Times of India.
However, there is a lack of clarity on the number of destitute as they are varying accounts of the number. While the Delhi government says that there are over 58,000 beggars in the city, human rights groups believe the actual number is around two lakh, according to a report by the New Indian Express.
The same report also suggests that out of the 300 beggars in Connaught Place, half are drug addicts and 3,600 beggars were detained by police from traffic signals last year.
The social welfare department, which came under fire after Kejiriwal's tweet, has not as yet removed information pertaining to the anti-begging drive listed as one of their services from their website.
Despite repeated attempts, International Business Times, India was unable to contact the department for comments on data related to begging related arrests.