Assam has the highest number of beggars and vagrants among the northeast states, Union minister for social justice Thawar Chand Gehlot informed the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Assam also has the fourth highest number of women beggars in the country, the minister added in a written reply to the House, The Times Of India reported.
Quoting the 2011 Census, Gehlot said Assam has 22,116 destitute people, of which 14,847 are women – double the number of men, 7,269. According to the Census report, there were about 4.13 lakh beggars and homeless people in India. As the data is almost seven years old, the present situation is believed to be worse.
Beside Assam, other northeastern states–Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya–too, showed a similar trend, where women beggars have outnumbered men.
“In Tripura, out of 1,490 beggars recorded, 883 were female. Similarly, in Meghalaya, there are 224 female beggars out of a total 396. Manipur has 146 female beggars out of total 263 beggars,” he informed.
Of the eight northeastern states, Mizoram fares the best, with only 53 beggars, including 20 women.
Social analysts said the lack of any comprehensive policy addressing the issue of beggary has made the situation worse.
The Narendra Modi-led government introduced the Persons in Destitution (Protection, Care and Rehabilitation) Model Bill, 2016, to address the issue of chronic beggary and homelessness in India, but decided to drop the proposal to amend the legislation last year.
“At present, there is no central law on begging and most of the states have either adopted the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, which criminalises beggary or have modelled their laws on it. In Assam, provisions were made under the social welfare department for providing homes for homeless people. However, more welfare schemes are needed,” said a state social welfare department official.