They are a politically and socially isolated community, with no status as citizens and, hence, no claims to basic utilities such as electricity
It might be long before the government can successfully develop an entire, modern city upon the Ravi. Till then, Lahore is most likely to continue to be home to over half a million gypsies, many of whom have based themselves in makeshift tents along the banks of the river. They are a politically and socially isolated community, with no status as citizens and, hence, no claims to basic benefits as well as utilities like electricity. They have no access to jobs and security, and their children can’t enroll in schools. This, despite a UN Commission on Human Rights report which calls on the countries of the world to “adopt all appropriate measures in order to eliminate any form of discrimination against the Roma (gypsies).”
They live way below poverty line. Their main ‘vocation’ is begging, though some also work as labourers on daily wages or sell cheap household items on city streets to earn a living. Rag-picking is another common activity.
The gypsies are known to have special, indigenous knowledge of medicinal herbs. Some of them famously keep snakes.
The gypsies of Lahore come from varied castes — Qalandar, Oudh, Musali, Jogi, Bazigar, Marasi, Koray and so on. The Qalandars and Marasis popularly indulge singing and dancing, while the Kenghars make mud toys.
These people usually occupy a place for a short period of time — a couple of months or years — before they move on. Some stay as briefly as for a few days. It is not yet clear as to what role will they be assigned, once the urban development project is set in motion.