Nagpur: Often when you stop at major squares in the city, a lady with a very tiny malnourished baby, with ragged clothes approach you seeking alms. If this is not enough, very small children aged between 5-7 carrying small babies approach you seeking alms. They look so pitiable that often we in our generosity give them a coin or two. The moment the signal turns red and vehicles including cars, SUVs, two-wheelers starts stopping the vehicle, these beggars start taking winding rounds between the vehicles seeking alms.
Some of the members of the same tribe can be seen selling balloons, toys, flannel cloth and other goods.
Who are they?
Well these beggars belong to the Pardhi tribe and are located near Yeshwant Stadium area. Pardhis are denotified as criminal nomadic tribe. They are found mostly in Maharashtra and parts of Madhya Pradesh. Pardhi is the term for “hunter”. The members of the tribe are fond of hunting and poaching and have not got rid of their turn for thieving. The Pardhis are always found to be ragged and dirty, walking with a sneaking gait.
Apart from seeking alms, some of the small children commit pilferage and thieving too following their ancestral profession of hunting and thieving. One knows that the ladies in the city especially the teachers have to wear saris to their schools or offices. Since the girth of the saris is pretty less, they sit precariously on their TVS Scooty or Honda Activas. They have the purse or hand-bag latched on to the hook between their feet. When they stop their two-wheelers in the squares, these little urchins who move about seeking alms, just snatch the hand-bag and run away. So fast they are that one can’t locate them even if one follows them on foot. By the time the lady raises the alarm and manages to move away from the traffic and after parking her two-wheeler to chase the urchin, the urchin vanishes.
Similar incidents have occurred with many car-drivers too. If the person accidentally leaves the window open, these urchins are known to have grabbed the brief case or bag and escape.
All round risk
These infants, girls or women move through the vehicles seeking alms when they stop for traffic light to turn green. However, as a typical behavior of citizens of Nagpur, as soon as the signal turns green, the way the vehicles speed off appears as if they are bats out of hell. If by accident, some four-wheeler runs over them, what will happen. Some two-wheeler may also ram into them and kill them with their bikes. Who will be responsible for this senseless accident?
The Traffic Policemen manning the squares while speaking to Nagpur Today said that how can we monitor these street urchins? If we shoo them from one side of the road, they go to the other side. They said that they can’t run after the kids. Are we suppose to manage the stray cattle and these urchins or vehicular traffic? They too agreed that these street urchins are running a risk of getting crushed under the wheels of some four-wheeler attempting to cross the square before the light turns red.
Very small children carry cloth wiping the glass windows and go zigzag through the cars asking for alms. However, since the glass is tinted on many cars, the children may not be seen and may end up getting killed.
When the Nagpur Traffic Police is observing a Road Safety Week, did they do something about this?
Is the civic authority sleeping?
These beggars belonging to the Pardhi tribe have made the area near Yeshwant stadium their habitat. They can be seen at all times, fighting, cooking, and making the area dirty. On many occasions, they were shooed away from the area, yet within a day or two, they return back. Why has the civic authority not done anything significant in this direction?
By Samuel Gunasekharan. Pics by Vinay Nimgade.