No check on illegal settlers, syndicates aiding crime

Begging has reached an alarming level in Jammu but the district administration seems to be in a slumber as it has failed to crack the whip on the menace.

Although the administration in Srinagar had banned begging and ordered arrest of person involved in soliciting alms, authorities in the temple city are yet to take any such steps.

Ironically, a majority of those driven out of Srinagar have shifted to Jammu, Katra, Udhampur and other towns of the Jammu region. Many traders and residents complained that at times, they were involved in thefts but the police have failed to address the issue. Mostly run by illegal Burmese Rohingya settlers and helped by syndicates run by gangs from West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, begging has become a major concern for the residents.

Section 4 of the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Beggary (JKPB) Act, 1960, provides for arrest of any person indulging in the act without a warrant. However, the police and the district administration have turned a blind eye towards them.

“Why have our authorities adopted an ‘ostrich-like attitude’ to deal with the nuisance. The sight of disabled children soliciting alms is a major concern. The police should take action, either deport or rehabilitate them, especially those functioning around temples and mosques,” said Gulshan Kumar, a resident of the Bahu Fort area. The areas targetted by beggars for operation are Jewel Chowk, general bus stand, Gole Market, Gandhi Nagar, railway station, Bahu Fort and those outside religious places in the city.

They have become a source of annoyance for the people, particularly the tourists. “Whenever we visit the market, they follow us. At times, there are small children with them, who are mostly sedated,” said Sonali Sharma, a university student.

Deputy Commissioner Ramesh Kumar said action would be taken against them soon. However, when asked about the continued neglect of the issue, the DC said, “It is a complex social problem, which needs cooperation from all quarters”.

Source: Originally posted in Tribune