Beggars celebrate Republic Day

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Bhubaneswar, Jan 26 (UNI) Braving chilly January morning wind and unseasonal rain, more than fifty beggars and rickshaw pullers today gathered near station square here to observe the 59th Republic Day.

Bhagaban Sahu, a 75-year-old man unfurled the national flag at a function organised by Bhumika, a city-based NGO, working for the last few years on a project '' Freedom from Begging'' to help them lead a life with diginity.

After Mr Sahu unfurled the national flag along with others, including disabled, children and old people, everyone shouted Bharat Mata Zindabad, Mahatma Gandhi Zindabad and Netaji Subash Bose Zindabad.

The function was closed after a meeting at the square. They distributed sweets among themselves to celebrate the national day.

Bhumika Project Coordinator K C Behuria said the ''main objective behind organising the function is to instil a sense of patriotism in the minds of the beggars and to bring them to the mainstream''.

Mr Behuria said that under the project, many beggars were given financial support and free counselling to leave begging and take up small works to live with dignity.

He claimed that many beggars were provided assistance to buy and pull cycle rickshaws, to sell ground nuts and fruits and work as newspaper hawkers.

Those who took begging, following a family feud were given counselling and persuaded successfully to return to their homes, he said.

UNI BD LL AM BD1718

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