Beware. If you are not dressed properly, you may land up in the Beggars' Rehabilitation Centre, irrespective of who you are.
This is what happened to 54-year-old Rajashekaran, an N.R. Colony resident who is an English teacher, and 44-year-old Majaz Ali Khan, who claims to be a doctor graduated from M.S. Ramaiah Medical College.
While the teacher, a B.Com graduate of A.P.S. College, has been in the Beggars' Home for the last six days, the “doctor” has spent a year there. Their plight came to light on Thursday when members of the Legislature Committee on SC/ST Welfare visited the Beggars' Home along with reporters.
‘Dumped like a sack'
“My clothes were dirty and hair unkempt when I was walking back to my room from the library near Gandhi Bazaar. But these people caught me and brought me here. When I protested, they bashed me up and dragged me like a sack and dumped me in the van,” a distraught Mr. Rajashekaran told The Hindu on Thursday.
Reeling out the phone numbers of his students and acquaintances, Mr. Rajashekaran alleged that the living conditions in the Home were pathetic. “This place is full of corruption. The food is horrible. Sambar here is only coloured water,” he said.
“We have no other go but to drink water stored in dirty cans. It further gets contaminated when others dip their hands along with the tumblers into the can. We are beaten up for no reason. If I continue to stay here for two more days, I will hang myself. If I ever get out, I will meet the Prime Minister and complain to him,” he said.
Mr. Rajashekaran told the visiting committee members that he lived in a room by himself as he did not have a family.
He visited friends occasionally. He did pravachanas in temples and taught English in a private tutorial. However, the visiting members did not buy his story and insisted he was a beggar.
Mr. Rajashekaran, protesting, said he had the ability to take care of 10 people. Unimpressed, a committee member turned to the reporters and said: “These people are standard beggars.”
C.N. Manje Gowda, Chairman of the Central Relief Committee that runs the Beggars' Home, said: “Every inmate here claims he/she is not a beggar. We catch these people after we get complaints from the public. If their family members come forward to claim them, we allow them to go.”
V. Harish, Mr. Rajashekaran's student who knows him for nine years, and Basavanagudi Councillor B.S. Satyanarayana, who also knows him for several years, were shocked to hear he had landed up in the Beggars' Home.
While the student said: “He is my teacher and not a beggar. Where is this place? I will go and get him released,” Mr Satyanarayana said: “I have known him for years. He is not a beggar. How can they take him there? I will get him released.”
Meanwhile, the “doctor, Majaz Ali Khan, seemed comfortable in the Beggars' Home and said he was happy there as “it was a big hospital”.
Keywords: Misplaced identity