April 8: Despite anti-begging legislation, Jammu continues to brew begging unabated, with enforcement agencies seems turning blind eyes towards the menace.
While as the begging trend among children is on rise, the line departments of the government seems unmoved over the spoiling of future of these children, with taking no stringent action in this regard.
Shockingly, the state government even has not maintained data for statistics of beggars.
“The numbers of beggars in state are increasing day by day but the concerned department has not maintained the data about number of beggars in state for their rehabilitation,” said an official of the social welfare department wishing anonymity.
In winters, the number multiplies with the migration of beggars from Kashmir valley.
The official said that the influx of beggars is on rise as they migrate from neighboring states and it becomes easy for them to settle down in Jammu, instead of moving ahead.
“We have seen movement of beggars from other states entering state as a tourists or labourers. They come in families and settle down doing petty jobs. While as elders busy themselves in shoe polishing, rag picking and other such jobs, the children are left unattended for begging at different chowks of the city,” official said.
In such an age, the children are exposed to harsh environment with daily risk taking activities. These children start begging to help their parents in making both ends meet.
Across the Jammu district, beggars, especially children could be seen begging in buses, at traffic lights and other important points of crowd.
On selective days, like Tuesday and Saturday, they beg in the name of god. The child beggars carrying bucket in their hands with half filled mustard oil asking for alms, according to astrology Shanni Dev’s god of Planet Saturn and those offer alums on the said day will get rid of ill-fated.
Shimpoo a twelve year old begging at Bikram chowk said that he has no interest on education learn because his teachers used to punish him. “One day my teacher punished me and in reply I hit her with stone. After that incident I never went to school,” he said and added that he gets enough money to spend from begging, so he ‘loves it’.
He also informed that his daily collection reaches upto two hundred and on Saturday it doubles.
Similarly, a ten year old Sheela, begging at Bawe Wali Mata gave same reason for her begging and said that she used to buy fancy dresses and toys with money which was offered by devotees.
Esha Mahajan students of Mulana Azad Memorial (MAM) College said that theses child beggars sometimes ask for alms in-front of their college if they refuse to give, they start following them and compel them to give them money.
When contacted census department Chander Shekher Saproo said that the beggar’s data was once collected in the year 2011 and we collected it category wise. He further said that a workout is needed to recollect the new data adding that “Our job is just to collect the data and nothing else. We collected it and handed over it to Social Welfare Department who has to take steps for their welfare or eradication with the help of law enforcement departments”.