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February 18, 2020

Number of beggars on the rise in Peshawar

Peshawar

February 18, 2020

PESHAWAR: Beggars in large numbers have flooded various parts of the provincial capital and many of them are professional ones, depriving the deserving people of their due share in charities.

A large number among these beggars is of children, including young and teenage girls, who are more vulnerable to child abuse as well as different kinds of crimes and harassment. Mostly children are made to beg as people give more alms to kids for their innocence. Some of these children directly beg for money while others pose to be selling cheap items to win sympathies of the people who pay them more even without buying anything from them.

However, the beggars also include genuinely deserving and orphan kids who have no financial support and have to run their kitchen instead of going to school. Over the last several years, the government departments concerned have failed to address the issue such as not making arrangements for the rehabilitation of the beggars, ignoring education of the children or by not taking action against the parents who force their kids to beg in the streets.

Among the beggars are a large number of chronic drug addicts who have been disowned by families and they now spend nights on roads, under bridges, footpaths, parks and other open places. At least seven drug addicts have died in the last few weeks due to cold weather.

When someone visits the city, he or she can see beggars in main trade centres, outside restaurants and shops, on the streets and visiting houses and offices every day. The number of beggars in the city has increased greatly during the last several years due to the declining economic conditions.

Hundreds of those begging on the streets are those young men and women who are physically fit and can better do other jobs instead of asking for alms. Majority of them, however, are children who have been forced by parents to go to the streets and earn money to run the kitchen as well as to arrange for the luxuries and drugs of their parents. “I was studying in Class-III till a couple of years ago but my father is ill and we have no-one to feed our family, so my mother bought me this weight machine. I don’t ask for alms but people give me money of their own free will,” said Ihtisham, a who sits on footpath at Saddar with a weight machine. Some of the children, including girls, remain on footpath till late night in the cold weather to earn more.

Another child, who cleans windscreens of cars at a traffic signal, said that he was supporting his father to feed his large family comprising his parents and six siblings.

Many of those begging for alms irritate families and individuals when they intercept them outside restaurants, departmental stores and markets, with some of them pushing and others abusing them publicly. A large number of professional beggars were arrested and cases lodged against them after police kicked off an operation against their gangs in the provincial capital last year. Police said many of these groups were facilitating various criminal gangs operating in the provincial metropolis.

Similar, campaigns against beggars in Peshawar were launched in the past years but the drive proved a complete failure as no preparations were made for rehabilitation of the beggars and breaking the network of professionals through proper investigation.

“Every day, we find a large number of beggars when we come out of any restaurant, shopping mall, and mosque or anywhere in the city. When you pay some amount to one of them, many others appear instantly and create a scene,” said a Peshawarite, Aziz ur Rehman.

He added that these beggars’ aged between 5 years old and over 70 years old and they are so irritating that they would never let anyone enjoy their dinner or shopping. “The worst thing is that they deprive those who are in real need and can’t do any job to earn livelihood,” he added.

Majority of the people on social media want the young beggars to be enrolled in schools and provided monthly stipends while others should be given short vocational and technical trainings to turn them useful and skilled labourers.

They want the professional beggars and the parents who force children to beg on the streets must be warned and in the next stage charged in cases, just like Punjab where action has been kicked off against them recently. Many want the government to take a stern action against them but also take long-term measures for their rehabilitation, welfare and financial support in terms of jobs and skills so they don’t return to the streets again.