Beyond Ban

The menace of beggary is to be taken more seriously

Bilal Kaloo
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jun 20 2018 10:39PM | Updated Date: Jun 20 2018 10:39PM
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At a time when authorities in the capital city have invoked anti-beggary laws to curb the  proliferation of beggars in the valley, the flood of non-local beggars has inundated both urban as well as the rural areas causing lot of public inconvenience. Begging is an offence under Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Beggary Act I960, which necessitates authorities to take legal action against the offenders to curb the ill-practice.

 The much needed initiative undertaken by district administration of the city has some promise and potential to provide relief to common masses that had to confront and negotiate with difficulty the mob of beggars at prominent public places, footpaths and at crossings near traffic junctions. But the causal roots that are deeply embedded in the socioeconomic realities need to be analyzed thoroughly to address the denigrating practice. The over-flow of non-local beggars widely scattered all across the valley is a matter of serious concern as their anonymous identity not only breeds suspicion but potentially exposes the population to greater risk and vulnerabilities of crime.

Many videos on social media have gone viral where non-local beggars in local attire are posing as locals to collect alms and charity thus not only misleading the passer byes who donate but simultaneously denigrating the image and reputation of copied culture. Apparently there exists a well-organized network of beggary mafia of non-locals that number in thousands who are sharing their earnings with their managers and masters who are behind the scene operating the entire matrix of this menace. 

There are two distinct categories of non-local beggars in business one that of the able bodied beggars and the other one with amputated bodies who generate more empathy and thus manage to slip into the public places. The non-local beggary mafia with ‘amputated actors’ that sneak into crowded public places and succeed to fetch hefty bucks for themselves and for their operators who manage their boarding and lodging and in placing and positioning them at varied public places. The organized nature of this heinous act is worrisome as it is expanding its canvass and catchment day by day. 

Impersonating as Muslims by non-local beggars to solicit alms and charity is not any solitary act but reflects and well -crafted design that is aimed at derogating the identity of the community as a whole. These imported beggars who put on such appeasing and appealing apparel pleading for alms in many such videos where they are caught by public can be exempted for hoodwinking the masses, but the real masterminds who are hatching such demeaning designs for their vested interests need to be unmasked. Any untoward and criminal act by such impersonating beggars can have serious repercussions and thus potentially defame a particular community. It is not just being overtly too much cynical about this ‘disguised beggary’ but delving deep inside this malpractice surely develops doubt and raises some intriguing questions that need to be answered. 

For the tourists the fake impressionist non-local beggars present and project an illusionary image    of local population that has the tendency to be stereotyped for the entire community. Thus propelling and propagating negative publicity of the native population consequentially discouraging and demotivating the prospectus of tourist inflow. Tourists are usually found helpless while being chased by the horde of beggars for soliciting alms at various tourist places thus invoking unnecessary inconvenience adding much to their dissatisfaction.

Authorities have to be very prompt and proactive to curb and control the entry of bogies of non-local beggars at the key entry points to scrutinize this mass inflow that is becoming unmanageable. Apart from perceiving through prism of poverty, the whereabouts of impersonating beggars must be thoroughly probed to ascertain and establish a factual base and unveil the individuals and groups who are behind the stage fuelling this menace. The disguised and deceptive overtures of beggary cannot be undermined and ignored. Better to act now and put in place the stringent measures to curb and curtail ‘imposed infiltration’ of non-local beggars to avoid public inconvenience in general and mis-representation in particular. 


(Bilal Kaloo is Assistant Professor  Department of Education (South Campus) University of Kashmir)




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