Beggars becoming a public nuisance in Islamabad

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Feature By Waseem Kamboh

ISLAMABAD, Dec 23 (APP):Once known for its serene evenings and calm days, the federal capital these days is facing unprecedented hassle with day to day rising population. Migrants from other cities have thronged the capital during recent years also bringing with them a large cache of professional beggars – especially the teens.
On any roadside, road transaction or market, one comes across a group of kids begging alms and behaving rudely on refusing. They may hit ones vehicle with a punch or kick on denial of alms and this abrupt encounter
in the capital has become order of the day.
They may roam freely anywhere and tease anybody regardless of gender and age thinking alms as their birth right and denial as their contempt.
Beggars, many of them in disguise of transgenders, and underage boys and girls ranging from five to 16 year old can be seen begging the motorists on traffic signals of city’s main roads including Jinnah Avenue, Constitutional Avenue, Faisal Avenue, Margalla Road and Kashmir Highway, Embassy Road, Aabpara road Islamabad etc.

Beside the traffic signals, a big number of transgenders and alms seekers can also be witnessed irking the citizens with their immoral begging tactics at busy markets including F-7 Jinnah Super, F-10 Markaz,
F-11-Markaz, F-6 Super Market, Blue Area and others.

Some kids offer to wash windscreens of vehicles, sell flowers, newspapers and other small items to attract the sympathy of citizens.

Scores of citizens and motorists have complained that they have to face the heated words of these kids and some time they hurt their vehicles when the alms are refused to them.

Talking to APP, a motorist Nawazish said, “A ten year old boy kept on knocking the window pan of my vehicle despite I politely refuse to give him alms at Shaheen Chowk traffic signal. As the green signal got
on and I moved my car forward, the kid hit my vehicle’s back door with his leg,” he lamented.

Another citizen Danish Ali said, “A number of kids can be seen in groups and playing at traffic signals. As the red-signal get on, they start irritating the motorists while demanding money from them, sometimes
police personnel standing there ignored them.”

This was a grim reality that a big number of kids of school going age have been deployed for a pathetic act of beggary by their handlers while the departments concerned have turned blind eye to it.

“Once a boy damaged my vehicle’s paint by placing a line on bonnet through a kind of metal’s tool and ran away but I was unable to stop him as the traffic was in flow after the green signal got on at Jinnah Avenue,” a citizen Qaiser Abbas said while sharing his experience.

Maria, a shopper at F-10 Markaz, said, “Transgender use unethical tactics to gain sympathies of citizens for alms at markets. It is very difficult for her family to do shopping in presence of these beggars”.

The beggars live in ‘slums’ and surrounding areas of the federal capital including Golra, Pirwadhai, Tarnol, around Khannapul and Alipur etc. At the sunrise, the parents drop their children at main traffic signals
of the city for begging and pick them in the evening.

A fourteen year old young girl belonging to a pathan family said, “I belong to a poor family living in Golra area and my father daily use to drop me along with my other two sisters at highway near Faisal Mosque for begging from motorists. I want to go to school but my family forces me to do this bad thing,” she said.

Another underage boy narrated that his uncle fielded a group of ten kids at different roads at office timings and got them back in evening. He said his family was living near Khanna pul (Khanna bridge) and it was recently migrated from Gujranwala, a city of Punjab province.

When contacted a senior official of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration admitted the significant increase in professional beggars in federal capital. He said that the ICT administration took periodic actions
against the persons involved in this offence, however, the ICT police had deputed a special squad named ‘Mujahid-1’ which operates daily to apprehend the alms seekers at various localities.

He said that the kids involved in the activity were sent to Edhi homes, women were sent to women police stations while the males were sent to jail. He, however, said people in trivial crimes were released on
sympathetic grounds due to rush in Adiala Jail during weekly visits by the session judges.

The kids were so clever, as the police raid the highways, the children use to disperse in near streets and markets, he said adding that police did not chase them to avoid accidents and interruption in traffic flow.

He said most of them belonged to families living in ‘Kachi Abadis’, however, adding that it was difficult to trace the handlers of these kids.

Since it was a difficult task, he said, there was a need for public awareness campaign to curb the menace of beggary. The citizens should avoid giving charity to the transgenders and professional beggars.

He said many young men changed their get up to pretend as transgenders and throng the markets to beg from the shoppers.

The official said that the department was working on the project to prepare some rehabilitation homes for the people involved in beggary.