A drive through the streets of Guwahati and there is one thing that is definitely going to catch your attention – the presence of beggars at the traffic signals and by the road side. The number of beggars at the Chandmari traffic point and areas of Ulubari has gone up significantly. While Chandmari traffic point barely had any beggars now there are at least 3-4 beggars at the point. The number of beggars near Sukreshwar Temple too has seen a spike. One main reason, as shared by some of these beggars is the COVID and lockdown impact.
"I was working as a part time maid. People asked me not to come for work when COVID broke out. After that they did not take me back. I have no other skill set. So I started sitting here outside the temple for food and some clothing," one woman who is now forced to beg said.
"I used to earn my living as a daily labourer. Because of COVID I did not have any work. Now I am sick and do not have the strength to go back to work. Begging is all that I can do now to fill my belly," a 50 year old man said.
Many of them worked as daily wage earners or part time maids. Now most of them are out of work. Left with no option they have either taken up begging or sits outside places of worship for people to donate food and clothes.