IGSSS chooses to call homeless residents as CityMakers (CMs) because they are the ones through whose labor, drudgery and sweat, any city gets made. IGSSS chooses to call homeless residents as CityMakers (CMs) because they are the ones through whose labour, drudgery and sweat, any city gets made. As per lndu Prakash Singh “They are the unsung builders of the nation, called India or any country in the world. They continue to remain on the fringes. CityMakers is a positive connotation on what they do in the city. While the homeless term is a situational description. CityMakers also subsumes the worth of the makers and their values, who might be poor due to lack of reach/ access to resources; but they are rich in terms of their labor, which brings the being of a city into existence. It’s a tribute to the sacrifices the CityMakers have made. And now the time has come for their being acknowledged and provided all their entitlements. They richly deserve. As a right, not as a dole.”
As we walk into the office of lndu Prakash, the first thing that catches our attention is a “police ka danda” standing in the corner. lndu Prakash tells us, it’s a constant reminder of atrocities that the “CityMakers” deal with on daily basis and it actually motivates him to keep working towards their welfare.
Q NGO express: Who are CityMakers?
lndu Prakash: CityMakers are the manifestation of malignant injustice. They are the poor, unrecognized women and men, including the elderly, children, disabled, who labor hard for their survival and build any city.
CityMakers are in the most vulnerable position as they face extreme deprivation and neglect. They are socially and politically ostracised. They don’t have any rights, even the right to beg for their living!
CityMakers live on the pavements, rickshaws, handcarts, flyovers, under bridges, etc. Police, who in a way ‘own’ the cities, subjects them to regular beatings. They don’t have any identity.no welfare schemes are meant for them, and even the law dubs them as ‘vagrants and beggars’.
Q NGO express: Can children be called CityMakers?
lndu Prakash: Yes. Children who live on the roads of the city also contribute to it with their daily labor. They are also the ones who are the most exploited.
The toddlers who accompany their parents when they make homes for the elite / roads etc., too contribute to subsidizing the costs of the elite city dwellers. As they exist without immunization, education, and other so called privileges.
Q NGO express: Can the women with the children in their arms, begging; be called CityMakers?
lndu Prakash: Yes, for most of them (women, men, elderly etc.) have tried various means to survive: setting up small businesses on footpaths (all made illegal by the municipalities and government authorities). The said municipal/ police and other authorities have destroyed each of these efforts.
On the verge of destitution, they take to begging, for us they are destitute people, from amongst the City Makers. We have asked them who they call beggars, for them, “those who don’t want to work are beggars”. They want work. Where’s the work? And if work is there, they are not paid the minimum wages. And they have no identity, no bank accounts; nothing of the government reaches them.
Q NGO Express: Please tell us about the homeless in the city and their conditions?
lndu Prakash: There are over 3-lakh homeless living in National Capital and only 150-night shelters. As per lndu Prakash Singh ” Maintenance of night shelters is the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board’s responsibility, but they are failing in this”. IGSSS helps put up night shelters in collaboration with NGOs. We put the shelters near the public toilet to give the shelter dwellers easy access. However, sometime the guards of the public toilet will close at 10pm and wont open the toilet complex until 7-8am. There are both temporary and permanent shelters available. Yet each shelter has its own flaw some are dimly lit while others have ample light. some are clean and others filthy.
Q NGO express: Please share with us some remarkable moments of working with CityMakers?
lndu Prakash: In winter of 2013, we started a campaign to provide CityMakers with tea. “Give a cup of tea to the Homeless” was carried on for 36 days during peak winters from 10th January 2013. We provided tea & biscuit to 100 people each morning. The campaign reached out to 7500 CityMakers at Yamuna Pushta, New Delhi.
This initiative was supported by NDTV, which broadcasted the appeal twice across its news space and other platforms. The campaign raised tl,71,124. A portion of this amount was utilized to distribute 500 blankets and 180 sleeping bags to the homeless people living on the streets.
lndu Prakash from CityMakers recently held an open Press Conference across CP Police Station, to inform the media about Police brutality done to the homeless residents. He said the trend of police brutality has become more of a norm than an exception across the Capital. In June 2013 there have been as many as four complaints of harassment and beating from the homeless people living near the police station of Connaught Place.
Dipankar, a homeless tattoo artist who stays at the Hanuman Mandirpremises in front of the police station, told that police beating was a normal feature in the lives of the homeless in the area. The police did not want the homeless to be in close proximity of the temple.
lndu Prakash also told us about an incident in June where a seven-month pregnant woman, Radhika, was allegedly beaten by a police officer from Connaught Place police station. “The police have no respect for women, handicapped, and any other marginalized sections of society,” he alleged.
Hon’ble Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed (son of our late President of India, Fakruddin Ali Ahmed and Begum Abida Ahmed) of Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, in his order dated 5.12.2006 in Crl Revp No. 784/2006 Ram Kumar Vs. GNCTD in para 6 states: “They are persons who are driven to beg for alms and food as they are starving or their families are in hunger. They beg to survive; to remain alive. For any civilized society to have persons belonging to this category is a disgrace and a failure of the State. To subject them to further ignominy and deprivation by ordering their detention in a Certified Institution is nothing short of dehumanizing them. It is here that courts must step in and recognize the defense of necessity. Judicial notice must be taken of the fact that as the accused are poor they will not have access to quality legal assistance, if at all. The duty is, therefore, cast upon the courts to satisfy themselves that the accused did not have a defense of necessity. Prevention of begging is the object of the said Act. But, one must realize that embedded in this object are the twin goals Nobody should beg and nobody should have to beg.”