Crippled for life due to polio, a worn-out aluminium plate next to him, Liston Momin, who has been begging on the busy streets of Aizawl for the past two decades, is moved by the honesty of the people of his ‘adopted’ city.
“During the last twenty years not a penny from my tray has been stolen,” said Momin.
Liston Momin, a Garo by tribe moved to Aizawl more than twenty years ago, and has been wandering on the streets of Aizawl. He has had several benefactors in the past and led a normal life without the need to beg. But during difficult times, he has to go for begging in the markets of Aizawl.
A native of Spalegusi village in Garo hills of Meghalaya, Li-Te-a, as he is being called by locals here, left his village and somehow landed in Aizawl back in 1986. Since then he has been begging on and off and saying that God and the Mizo people have blessed him.
“I never had the idea that this land would be my home, I am moved by the honesty of the Mizos and have willingly adopted Aizawl as my home city on my own terms,” Liston Momin said.
Aizawl is often called as a beggar-free city, but without consistency. The largest and all-powerful Central Young Mizo Association and Mizoram Upa Pawl or elders’ association have pledged to make Mizoram a beggar-free State.
Recently, the CYMA and the MUP initiated another move to make Mizoram a beggar-free State. In the just-concluded conference of the elders’ association held at Aizawl, it was unanimously decided that the association would work to achieve the status of beggar-free State.
The CYMA has decided to form a study team to make a survey across the city and collect data on the number of beggars in the city and take concrete actions in the light of the study. “Just driving the beggar from the streets is not a solution, providing opportunities for them will only make us beggar-free,” the Central YMA stated.
For Liston Momin and a handful of beggars wandering on the streets of Aizawl, the NGOs’ initiatives could be both a relief and a disaster for them. They could be driven off the streets by the NGOs or they could be given better alternatives without the need to beg.
“I have complete faith in the CYMA and other NGOs, Mizoram is not like any other State. From my past experience, I hope, we will not just be driven away; the Mizo people’s faith in God and their humanity spirit will always make alternatives for me,” Momin said.