Arvind Kejriwal ticks minister off, stops anti-begging drive

Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday halted his Social Welfare Minister Sandeep Kumar’s plan to embark on an ‘anti-begging drive’, calling it an “inhuman” and “futile” exercise.

Kejriwal’s direction over Twitter to stop the planned move “immediately” caught Kumar, who has been pushing for the drive over the last few weeks, unawares. “Most inhuman n futile exercise that social welfare dept cud think of. Am directing them to stop it immediately,” Kejriwal tweeted. Immediately after Kejriwal’s outburst on the microblogging site in the morning, Kumar is learnt to have directed his team to wind up the proposal.

Sources said Kumar had not even consulted the Secretary of the department before charting out the roadmap of the drive to make Delhi ‘beggar-free’, that was to begin on Monday.

The minister had formed ten teams which were tasked with picking up beggars from across the city and producing them before a metropolitan magistrate. The magistrate would then decide whether to let them off or send them to beggar homes. “The issue is more complex and has to be dealt with more sensitively. And the blueprint prepared by the minister had conceptual flaws which was bound to create controversy,” an official said.

Social activist Harsh Mander, who has worked for the city’s homeless over the years, criticised the plan saying the same strategy was adopted before the Commonwealth Games, resulting in disastrous consequences. “There are two ways to make a city beggar-free. One is to create a social security system for vulnerable and destitute people and the other is to drive them out. A threat is used to frighten people away. The same thing had happened before CWG when a large number of people ran away in panic,” Mander said.