Problem of beggary
During the holy month Ramazan, District administration in Srinagar invoked law to keep beggary under bay. And the results were pretty impressive. But now the beggars have once again returned to the streets and are doing their “business’ without any hassles.
Though a social evil, but here in the Valley the mendicancy has been flourishing with more and more people including small children joining the ranks of beggars to swell their number to teasing levels. There is hardly any nook or corner where there can be found no stretching hands begging for anything. Although beggars were always 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. In fact with mainland India witnessing intense heat coupled with monsoon rains and flooding , and the annual Amarnath Yatra going on here, 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. 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 evenings. 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 the ongoing unrest in the Valley should has been somewhat of a deterrent for the beggars from outside the Valley, but it seems to be having no impact. 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 government seems helpless to address the problem firmly so that the menace is eradicated once for all.
Why do authorities allow people from other states to beg here? It has been a scourge for the people of the state which they desperately want to be lodged down from their wits. Presence of beggars everywhere also 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 ban the pouring in of the beggars from outside the state by banning it out-rightly. Only then can the people 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.