On New Year’s Day, personnel and officers of Dimapur Police began the day by reaching out to street beggars and the homeless in town by giving them something warm to fill their bellies. On Monday, The Morung Express published a picture of a rag picker having a meal perched on the entrance of a decrepit and filthy toilet at the Dimapur Super Market Bus Station.
The former deservedly drew praise from people on social media, while the latter showed a picture of a section of the town’s underbelly which is swept under most discourses we have as a society. People who live on the streets are a common sight in the commercial capital of the state and too many times any discussion on this issue inevitable lead to unending tirades on demography and gentrification.
Living and sleeping on the streets is inherently dangerous for those who do it. Public urination and defecation are public health risks to everybody in the community. And drug and alcohol use and abuse that often go along with homelessness pose a danger to the community as well.
So as a city, who do you try to help first? And what do you do with people who don’t want the help?
Where’s the line between the right to live without a home and the right to live in relative peace and safety? Does the right of one person to sleep on the streets trump the rights of another to not have their front yard or storefront turned into a makeshift campground?
As a city, we need to develop compassionate ways to answer these problems. But so far there has been no step to even begin discussion on how to accommodate the downtrodden and improve their compassion (Remember that on paper we are a welfare state).
Sacrificing all our public spaces isn’t a reasonable, safe or healthy fix. Actively working to make pedestrian safety better should go hand in hand with efforts to ensure that the homeless no longer suffer in anonymity amid general indifference
There are no easy fixes. But it is time that local bodies and the state begin to recognize the issue and act.
Let’s notice the people it’s too easy to ignore.
Comments can be sent to email@example.com