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8 Dec 2016

Hit hard by money crisis, beggars fail to make ends meet

Bibhas Bhattacharyya, HT, 8 Dec 2016, KOLKATA: The ripples of demonetisation have even touched beggars in the country so much so that there is a sharp fall in their income. But beggars have no alternative way to earn their living so they have shifted the location where they beg for better luck.
Though many of them could not fathom the reason behind the decline in their income, some said they had heard about the government banning Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. “In the last one month I am earning only Rs 35-40 daily. But earlier it was at least Rs 90 to 100. I heard that Modiji (Narendra Modi) has taken all the money from people and they have nothing to spare for us,” said Anjali Mukherjee (65), a blind woman who hails from Sheoraphuli and has been begging for the last five years.
“One month back I used to beg only at the station but now I have started begging on the moving trains too. I am trying my luck everywhere,” she added.
Mukherjee has a daughter and a son and both are minor. She has admitted them in a school and with the help of her neighbours, all of whom are beggars, she prepares food for them.
“I remember that last year when I would return home at night, I would purchase ‘Joynagarer Moya’ (a winter delicacy) for my children. This year, they are requesting me time and again to bring it for them. But I am helpless because I am trying to make ends meet,” Mukherjee said. Till date, 85 people have died so far across the country since demonetisation. Apart from criticising the government in both houses of Parliament, opposition parties are also hitting the streets across the country.
Two jute mills — one in Howrah and the other in North 24-Parganas — have temporarily suspended work, citing the non-availability of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. Farmers have also alleged that because of the non-availability of these banned notes, they are not being able to buy seeds or sell their products in the markets.
“I don’t know what led to this situation. But four of my family members are dependent on me. I leave my home around 5 am and start begging in moving trains. I get down at Konnagar railway station to eat and also beg there. My income was nearly Rs 100 to 150 each day. But now I can earn a maximum of Rs 70 to 80 daily. If this situation continues, I will have no option but to commit suicide,” said Bimal Karok (45), a visually impaired resident of Howrah’s Ghusuri.

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