Beggars: a serious threat to public peace, security
Posted on 9 months ago
LAHORE: Begging has become a permanent feature of main junctures, traffic signals and markets of Lahore. Every traffic signal offers a flood of beggars who attack the vehicles stopping there to wait for the signal to turn green.
With different begging pleas and modern techniques, the beggars squeeze money from the pockets of the citizens. In the holy month of Ramzan the swarms of beggars appear from nowhere and add to the existing lot of beggars in all major cities of the country particularly in Lahore, the most attractive place for beggars.
People give alms generously in Ramzan which attract more and more beggars towards the big cities as people living in the cities are more prone to giving alms to beggars. As a result, mush room of beggars are seen everywhere.
With the approach of Eid, begging has increased manifold. One cannot escape from their approach. Some of them have adopted odd ways of begging and even don’t let you go unless you give something to them.
They go on knocking at the window of car and force you to surrender in front of their demand. In markets, the beggars, particularly the female beggars, start moving with you and don’t leave in spite of your repeated refusal to give something to them. Some women beggars don’t hesitate to pull you from your dress and ask in so brazenly manner that one is shocked to see all this.
There is another side of this issue. Beggars pose a serious threat to the law and order situation. It is pertinent to note here that in some terrorist incidents in the past the terrorists targeted in the garb of beggars.
In the prevailing security situation when intelligence agencies are issuing warning every now and then about anti state elements creeping in the city, the presence of countless beggars is a question mark on the performance of the administration. Many criminal elements involved in street crimes also work in the guise of beggars.
They are professional criminals and gather information while begging and then pass the information to their fellows. In this age of information technology it is very easy to pass information through cell phones instantly. In wake of terrorist activities, the presence of beggars at public places in large number is not out of danger.
They have an easy access to every place and they roam everywhere without any let or hindrance. Some might have connections with the terrorist organizations. A million dollar question arises here as to how begging can be eliminated. Who is responsible to take proper steps to control it?
When this correspondent contacted different police officials to learn as to what measures might be taken against beggars, most of the police officials expressed their helplessness in this connection. A high ranking official, who don’t want to be named, told that it was impossible to eradicate begging through police action.
He said that police arrested many beggars but they came out of jail on bail as there was no proper arrangement of their rehabilitation. Further, he said that police had other important jobs to do; it was not possible for police to take care of beggars. “Should police focus attention on maintaining law and order or to nab beggars?”, he questioned. An SHO told that though there existed a beggary act but nothing could be done in the prevailing situation.
He said that there was no proper arrangement to keep beggars in some suitable place for rehabilitation as most of the beggars claimed not to have any home or source of income. The same was the response of the traffic police officials when asked about the steps to eradicate the presence of beggars in Lahore.
City Traffic Police officials expressed their inability to take any step against beggary.
Basically, it is the responsibility of City District Government to take action against beggars. When DCO office was contacted, no satisfactory answer was given by the DCO office. Instead of giving some clear answer to the question of taking steps to abolish beggary, an official of the DCO office asked this scribe to contact Director Social Welfare. When contacted, the Director was not available for comments. Director Social Welfare Tanveer and EDO Chauhdry Ashraf did not attend their official telephones despite repeated efforts.
One reason of spreading begging at an alarming speed is the wrong habits of our masses who want to give alms to the downtrodden of the society and help the needy ones. Perhaps the people have misunderstood the teachings of Islam in this regard and in the quest of acting upon the Islamic injunctions of giving alms to the poor, people generally are promoting begging in the society. No doubt it is a noble cause to help others and our religion teaches us to take care of the poor and the needy.
There is a great reward for those who help others in the hour of trial. Islam puts special attention on helping those segments of society that are deprived of the basic facilities and hardly make both ends meet due to their meager sources. Great stress has been laid on giving alms to the poor. But we must understand that our religion has discouraged begging which is strictly forbidden.
According to the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) begging is a curse which should not be promoted in the society.
It means that we must draw a line between the deserving persons and the beggars. All beggars do not deserve to receive alms. When we threw alms indiscriminately, most of the time it goes to those who don’t deserve for it. As a result we deprive the deserving ones. We must shun this wrong habit if we want to abolish the curse of begging.
There must be a mechanism in the society to give alms to the needy ones. An institution can be developed that should collect data of all the needy and deserving persons of the society. People should deposit their alms to that institution and then it must be the duty of that institute to distribute alms to the needy ones.
Such an institute should work in liaison with the elders of every locality (mohallas) and it should work at town level. Help may be taken from the concerning mosque committees existing almost in all localities of the city and towns. No individual should be allowed to give alms to the beggars who stand in the markets or at traffic signals and spread hand in front of others.
There must be complete ban on begging and if anyone found begging anywhere, he/she must be arrested and put behind the bars. Begging is, no doubt, has become a stigma on the fair name of the country. It is high time to curb it.
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