Beggars Shell Out Rs 70 Lakh in Fines on Mumbai's Local Trains in 2014

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Beggars Shell Out Rs 70 Lakh in Fines on Mumbai's Local Trains in 2014

Commuters crowd onto a platform as they wait for a train at a station on the suburban train network in Mumbai. (AFP Photo)


Mumbai:  Beggars and hawkers in Mumbai's local trains have shelled out Rs 70 lakh in the form of fines in 2014. The Railway Police claims it has collected fines of up to Rs 1.89 crore in 2014, of which Rs 70 lakh came from beggars and hawkers.

"We have collected 70 lakh rupees from unauthorized hawkers and beggars. If they don't listen to us, we collect fines. Some people have also been arrested," said Alok Bohra, Railway Protection Force's (RPF) Senior Divisional Security Commissioner.

"Police fine us, take money from beggars who don't have money to eat," said one of the beggars at Mumbai's Parel station. They earn between Rs 200 and 300 a day, they say.

The usual penalty for the offence under Section 144 of the Railway Act can be as much as Rs 2,000 and/or one year of imprisonment, depending on the decision of the court.

"I have to take care of my parents and four sisters. The police slap us with fines. If we don't have money, they take our belongings," said Rizwan Sheikh, a hawker.

The RPF says it has acted against 64,000 people (including 18,000 beggars and hawkers) in 2014.

However, with beggars operating as gangs in syndicates, their continued presence is perhaps not possible without the connivance of officials.

"Most of these beggars are not homeless, they beg in an urbanised manner. There are often links between the railway police and these beggars", said Brijesh Arya, Founder of Pehchaan, a Mumbai-based NGO that works with the city's homeless.



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