Man from Kerala came to seek alms from resident who distributes food, cash every week

A beggar from Kerala who came seeking alms in Rajamangalam on Saturday was arrested for chain snatching.

For a few years now, N. Sivathanu, a 61-year-old resident of Baba Nagar 6 street in Rajamangalam, has been giving away Rs. 50 and a biscuit packet to beggars every Saturday. Every Friday night, beggars from Arakonnam, Tiruvallur and even neighbouring states, gather in the locality.

According to residents of the area, their number has now reached about 1,500, and they cause a ruckus in the locality every week. There are over 4,000 residents living in 13 streets in Baba Nagar.

“This practice of giving alms has been going on for over two-and-a-half years. The beggars sit in front of the houses and start drinking. Many defecate there. Women also do not venture out then as they fear harassment,” said S. Dharmaraj, former vice president of the Baba Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association. Several attempts to prevent this gathering have ended in broken car and bike mirrors, he added.

“We requested Mr. Sivathanu to organise the group distribution in a hall. A year ago, we approached the police for help,” he said. Police said there was even a lathi charge once, when things got out of hand, but that this did not stop the practice. There was even a lathi charge then, police said.

Assistant commissioner of police, Villivakkam, K. Kannan said that six months ago the police organised a meeting between Mr. Sivathanu and the other residents. “I told him I would find an open plot for him, as what he does is charity. I also promised to post two policemen to regulate the crowd. But he refused our offer,” he said.

This Saturday morning, fed-up residents stepped in to stop the crowd. They blocked all three entries to Baba Nagar 6 street. A ruckus ensued, and subsequently, the police arrived.

“The beggars were asked to leave. One man snatched a woman’s gold chain and ran away. We caught him and handed him over to the police.” said Mr. Dharmaraj.

The police found that his name was Kuriakose, and that he was from Kerala. He had arrived in the area on hearing about the alms.

Mr. Sivathanu told The Hindu that this act of charity was being conducted through the Sivathanu Charitable Trust. “No one has the right to stop me from donating money to the poor and needy. If residents have a problem they should give a written complaint. Then I can take the matter to the court and let the law decide,” he said.

He added that while claiming to put an end to the nuisance by sending the beggars away, the police had indulged in human rights violations by hurting physically challenged persons. “If some mendicants cause a nuisance, they can be sent away. There was no reason to chase everyone out,” he added.

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