He may not look it, but this young Indian beggar is actually richer than most of the nation's middle class. Pappu Kumar has managed to make a small fortune during eight years of begging on the streets of Patna, in the state of Bihar. He reportedly has 500,000 rupees ($7,500) stashed away in four bank accounts, and property worth 1.25 crore rupees ($185,000). He even lends money to local businessmen on the side and earns money from the interest charged. But the 33-year-old still doesn't want to quit begging.
Pappu was not exactly destined for the life of a beggar - he went to high school and even had plans to study engineering in college, but sadly, he suffered an accident that left him partially paralyzed. His father passed away soon after, and he was disowned by the rest of his family. Pappu was then left with no choice but to beg for his survival.
"I passed my intermediate examination with 57 percent marks and a major contributor to this was my mathematics subject where I obtained 72 marks, which was the maximum of all subjects," he told local media. "My dream was to pursue an engineering course. I was even trying for this, but, in the meantime, I met with a serious accident leaving me paralyzed. I had no option but to turn to begging to eke out my living as my family disowned me after the incident."
So Pappu set up camp at the Patna railway junction and continued to beg there for almost seven years before the local police tried to get him to leave the spot last year. They took him into custody when he refused to budge, and that's when his rags-to-riches story was exposed. The police investigators found out about his bank accounts and his two pieces of land measuring 2,000 square feet each. They also learned that he had lent over 10 lakh rupees (nearly $15,000) to various traders in the New Market area, with high interest rates.
The police advised Pappu to give up begging and start living a normal life using his savings, but the man has refused to do so. "We have removed him from station premises umpteen times and asked him to stop begging as he has sufficient cash to eke out a living," Railway Protection Force inspector Rajesh Lal said. "But why he wants to continue begging is beyond someone's imagination."
As for the suggestion of getting treated for his condition, Pappu said, "If I am cured, how will I continue begging? Who will give me money when I get physically fit?"