Sleeping on Streets

Imlisanen Jamir

As the sun dips below the horizon, Dimapur's vibrant streets tell a tale of two worlds colliding. Amidst the hustle and bustle of city life, a heart-wrenching reality unfolds nightly – the sight of street sleepers seeking solace on footpaths.

Beneath the glimmering lights, they lay, wrapped in threadbare blankets, embodying the harsh dichotomy between prosperity and destitution. These unassuming figures are not just nameless faces; they are laborers, beggars, and, even a few locals who find themselves entangled in the unyielding web of poverty.

The areas around Dimapur's bustling railway station, a gateway for dreams and aspirations, witness this somber tableau of vulnerability and hardship. Among those strewn across the pavements, many are laborers – individuals who toil relentlessly in search of meager wages, often left with no choice but to find solace in the city's unforgiving embrace at nightfall.

Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis, and it demands compassionate and comprehensive solutions. Solutions should prioritize the dignity and well-being of homeless individuals, ensuring access to safe and stable housing, mental health support, and social services. Simply pushing them out of sight ignores their basic human rights and does not address the societal issues at hand.

Establishing comprehensive social welfare programs that provide support to the homeless and those on the brink of destitution can help prevent individuals from resorting to the streets. These programs should offer food, shelter, healthcare, and access to education and skills training.

Recognizing that many street sleepers may be battling mental health issues or substance addiction, specialized rehabilitation and counseling services should be made available to help them reintegrate into society.

Meanwhile, combating the stigma associated with homelessness and poverty is crucial. Public awareness campaigns can foster empathy and understanding, urging citizens to play an active role in supporting the vulnerable members of the community.

Given the track record of our state agencies to deal with things in a hard handed manner, without taking into account the nuances of sensitive issues, it is important to understand that mere gentrification and simply chasing away the homeless are not viable solutions.

Some communities respond to homelessness by criminalizing behaviors associated with homelessness, such as sleeping in public spaces or panhandling. However, these measures often punish individuals for their circumstances rather than addressing the underlying issues. Criminalization not only deepens the cycle of homelessness but also perpetuates the marginalization and stigmatization of those experiencing homelessness.

Instead of stigmatizing and marginalizing homeless individuals, society should work together to create an inclusive environment that provides opportunities for everyone to thrive. This requires recognizing the dignity and worth of every human being, regardless of their housing status, and ensuring their basic needs are met.

Comments can be sent to [email protected]