Banning begging; good beginning

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Finally the city administration here seems to have woke up to the problem of beggary. Srinagar district administration merits praise for having banned the beggary, though it still remains to be seen as to how far the police and other agencies would go in implementing this ban. Despite being a big nuisance for all, the mendicancy has been flourishing here for the past many years, with more and more people including small children joining the ranks of beggars to swell their number to the teasing levels. There is hardly any nook or corner where there can be found no stretching hands begging for anything.

Although beggars have always been present here but their numbers would make them insignificant to the extent that beggary was hardly noticeable. But since past few years the problem has aggravated so much so that it seems that the Valley has become practically a paradise for begging hands. During the summer months the problem takes mammoth proportions. With mainland India witnessing sweltering heat, Kashmir becomes the ideal place for the homeless to spend summer months in. And as the holy month of Ramazan is also underway, the numbers of beggars that have descended into Kashmir is unprecedented, and so are obviously its ramifications.

In the past, if any local would take to begging, it was sheer compulsion that would make the person to opt for a practice that would remain a slur on the status of the progeny for quite some time. But now times have changed. Any person can go for it and when benevolent people like Kashmiris are around, then there is no question of mendicancy proving a failed option. People here are of different stock. If they have it, they will give away some to a seemingly needy person as alms ignoring the fact that the receiving hand may be just amassing money by feigning destitute, which is usually how it is.

Encouraged by this trait of the Kashmiris, people from other states have come here to start business out of begging. There are many people who leave some handicapped persons at different places in the cities and towns with a bowl and collect the money in the evening. What they need spend is just to provide food to the collecting body. There are numerous boys and girls who also have been addicted to mendicancy. They have become so unabashed that they will not hesitate to insult a respected citizen even on slightest pretext of receiving few bucks than expected. People are now seen shirking and avoiding these mendicants by routing their way. It is quite unfortunate that state-subjects have to divert their way for fear of being insulted or rebuked by a non-state-subject who has become so powerful by sheer begging that he/she can verbally overpower anyone. Although this time round the ongoing tensions have been somewhat a deterrent for the beggars from outside the Valley, but the problem nevertheless is perceptibly visible.

About 70 percent of the beggars here are from outside the state which compounds the problem manifold as it creates social problems as well. The hutments where these mendicants reside become bars in the evenings. The money collected is used for drinking alcoholic beverages. And even after watching all this, the government has thus far failed to address the problem firmly so that the menace is eradicated once for all. But now that the Deputy Commissioner Srinagar has taken the lead, let’s see how the authorities go about delivering people here from this scourge.

Presence of beggars everywhere brings bad name to the people of the state as the tourists from outside the state take them as belonging to Kashmir. State has already failed to redress the problem of local beggars and when the unwanted guests are thronging here, it is proving a source of great inconvenience to one and all in the state. So government needs to strictly implement the ban on begging and also stop beggars from outside from coming here by dis-incentivizing their stay here. Only then can the people of the state heave a sigh of relief and the money that goes as alms can be used in a better and constructive manner to rehabilitate those who are genuinely in need of some help.


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