New Delhi: Lakhs of people come to Delhi everyday in search of a good job, better life and a brighter future. But lack of economic or social support for the urban poor in the capital forces a large percentage to live on the streets.
Dipankar Sarkar was just six-years-old when he ran away from a broken home in Alipore, West Bengal and came to Delhi in search of a better life. Eighteen years and several professional courses later, Dipankar is still living on the streets of Delhi. Now a professional tattoo artist in Central Delhi, he says the homeless are never allowed to integrate in the society in the Capital.
Mohammed Irshad has been loading goods in old Delhi for more than a decade. The sole breadwinner in a family of ten, he says the big cities don't take care of their workers.
"We are leading a very bad life here. Wherever we find a place to rest, we sleep. However, there is not much place in shelters," he says, referring to the government night shelters.
Seventy eight-year-old Ram Sharan fears for his goods. So he sleeps right behind his flower stall under a flyover in the Capital. Ask him if the government shelters wouldn't be safer for his health and old age and he says, "No, we don't feel safe there. There is no comfort there. And it is filled with hooligans."
They are the city makers by day, but by night they become the 'other', the 'criminal' or the 'outcast', being deprived of access to basic civic facilities like health, housing and security, and their fundamental human right to dignity.
Many like 25-year-old Niaz Ahmed are aware that their work helps run the city smoothly, but are hurt that the city never gives them back anything, except a life of stigma and degradation.