Srinagar: Dog menace apart, people in city are facing yet another nuisance in the form of non-local beggars who have taken positions at various important points in the city, especially in commercial hub, Lal Chowk. Though, these beggars don’t bite, but they unleash equal amount of fear by chasing the pedestrians to fetch money.
This has not only annoyed the people but has been giving hard time to tourists as well. Sources say the trucks loaded with non local beggars are reportedly being unloaded at various key points in the city. “A truck with non-local beggars was seen at Regal Chowk on last Friday evening. We don’t know where the truck later dropped these beggars,” a local shopkeeper said.
These beggars are frequently seen on the busy city streets and do not leave any passerby without fetching money from him or her. “They will chase you if you don’t pay them anything,” the locals said.
Who allows them and where from they are being brought to Kashmir is a question people have been repeatedly asking the government to answer. However, no official from the government turns up to comment on the issue.
“Why this place is being filled with beggars. Most of them are those who cannot even walk. I think it is big business nexus and government should take serious note of the problem,” said Muhammad Ashraf, a local shopkeeper in Lal Chowk.
A rough survey conducted by News Despatch has found some 200 non-local beggars, most of them children, stationed at various points from Regal Chowk to Amira Kadal. Most of them are from Rajasthan and its adjoining states.
A non-local girl, some 14 years old, who was seen begging at Pratap Park, said she came here along with her father.
“I am a Muslim. I was studying at a local madrassa at my village in Rajasthan. A Kashmiri, we call him contractor, told my papa to come Kashmir for a job. The contractor took Rs 5000 from us and brought us here. We don’t know where he (contractor) is now. We are now begging here as we have no other work to do,” she said.
These beggars could be seen pulling the dupattas of women and even chase men to fetch money.
“They will not let you go unless you pay them money. If you enter a shop they will chase you,” said Sajad Ahmad, a teacher.
“For collecting alms from liberal Kashmiris over two lakh professional beggars have arrived from different parts of India into Kashmir at the start of Holy month of Ramadan- it is peoples choice to give them alms or not but they have become a nuisance at traffic crossings and on main roads like Srinagar by-pass road, traffic police should not allow them to gather at the crossings or road turns,” writes noted columnist Z G Muhammad in his Facebook post.