Srinagar: Despite ban on begging, authorities have failed to enforce checks on beggars in the summer capital.
In the holy month of Ramadan, non-local beggars have swarmed Kashmir in the thousands, including women and children, much to the annoyance of locals, particularly in the capital city of Srinagar.
Though there is no official number of such non-local beggars seeking alms in Kashmir valley, they can be seen in clusters of dozens across Kashmir in recent days.
There is no registration of such entrants into Kashmir and these people do not have any identity proofs on them.
While beggars thrive on the generosity of the Kashmiri people, they do not leave things to chance. Many of these beggars carry children, who are in bad shape, to gain sympathy.
Most of these beggars can be seen swarming religious places, including mosques, shrines, gurudwaras, and other places of significance. Besides, they have now identified the prominent tourist spots across Kashmir and do not shy away from bugging the tourists as well.
Voices are growing shriller on social media, where people are asking Kashmiris to stop sparing any change to these non-local beggars. Videos of them being dumped out from vehicles have also surfaced on social media.
“Do not waste your hard-earned money on non-local fake beggars. It is a mafia,” one user wrote on Facebook. Another suggested that this nexus was being run by contractors, who also provide the children to these beggars.
Thus far the administration has not taken any action in this regard.
But there is a prior example of government action against these beggars. In 2018, the PDP-BJP government banned begging around public places and ordered the arrest of people found doing so.
Invoking the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Beggary Act,1960, the government in 2018 imposed ban on begging. An order issued in this regard by the Deputy Commissioner Srinagar had directed police to arrest any person found soliciting alms in public and at religious places or other private premises. The SSP Srinagar and Budgam were also asked to implement the order and report the number of such arrests on daily basis.
Hundreds were subsequently arrested and deported back. Will the administration take a leaf out of the 2018 action by the government remains to be seen.