Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the Delhi government is making this move. It is the Delhi police which comes under the Centre. The error is regretted.
In order to curb beggars from getting away with thefts and burglaries, the Delhi police is making a controversial move, which could be tantamount to the illegal profiling of the poor and homeless people in the national capital.
The Hindustan Times reported today that the Delhi government plans to keep a record of beggars and vagabonds by taking their photographs and fingerprinting them. The newspaper reported that 500 people staying under footpaths and flyovers will be rounded up and subjected to this exercise in the first round.
While the police believe that profiling beggars will make it easier to trace those indulging in theft and burglaries, and summon them to the police station, human rights activists say that this exercise amounts to branding the poor and homeless without evidence.
"It's a step to curb the crime rate. We can ask residents if they feel any beggar is suspicious." deputy commissioner of police (south), Ishwar Singh told HT.
But human rights activist Indu Prakash Singh had a different take on the situation. "If one is responsible, the entire lot cannot be held responsible. Police are unaccountable to local government and they do whatever they want," Singh told HT. "Police are hand-in-glove with criminals."
Earlier this year, human rights activists accused the New York Police Department (NYPD) of illegally profiling homeless people following an attempt to move them off the streets and into shelters.
Advocates for homeless people argued that people could not be targeted simply for living on the street, even though they have not broken any laws.
"We have the right to not have the police interrupt our daily lives," Alexis Karteron, a lawyer for the New York Civil Liberties Union, told The New York Times. "It really just boils down to pure harassment."
Also on HuffPost India: