BEGGARS TAKE OVER SMC’S TRAFFIC SIGNALS
SYED IMRAN ALI HAMDANI
Srinagar, Aug 26: Srinagar Municipal Corporation might have acted quick in installation of traffic signals in the City, but beggars acted quicker to take over the busy sites irking thousands of people who everyday happen to halt at the red signals.
The moment traffic signals go red, beggars, mostly non-locals start knocking the cabs asking for alms. The practice continues till driver takes out some money for them. Or else, there’s every possibility that you will be cursed by beggars. And if they get time, they even end up scratching the vehicles too.
All this has emerged as a common scene at almost all the traffic signals in the City. From Rawal Pora in south City, to Batamaloo, to City centre of Lal Chowk and the TRC square, the menace prevails almost everywhere.
Though sometime back police had woken up and claimed to have made the City “beggar free”, the menace is back on the streets.
THE MODUS OPERANDI
Around three to four beggar families, stationed at each traffic signal, don’t miss to take over the roads, the moment the lights start blinking red.
This is when those traversing the route find it difficult to avoid beggars who know how to cash the moment. If the window is open, they bring their hand into the cab from the driver’s side and keep pleading for alms.
And if the windscreen is shut, they start knocking at it with some coin. “At first I tried to avoid them by shutting the windscreen. But the very next moment they started knocking my car with coins. Fearing scratches, I took out a tenner,” said Ghulam Mustafa Khan a businessman from of Soura area.
But the problem didn’t end. Khan said by the time one beggar got Rs 10, three more emerged and repeated the same trick.
“Now, I declined to pay them but they abused me and even scratched mar car with coins,” he recapped.
BEGGARS HAIL SIGNAL SYSTEM
The beggars, mostly non locals from north Indian states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, said they had been longing to have traffic signals to be in Srinagar.
“Traffic signals are the best place to look for alms. This practice is prevalent everywhere be it Mumbai or New Delhi,” said a beggar who identified himself as Satish Kumar from Maharashtra. The young man, who has brought his family along, said he has been coming to Kashmir during summers for the past around a decade.
Asked why he prefers Srinagar over his homeland, the man said: “Here people are very generous in paying alms. Moreover here we make some good bucks during summers and the weather too is comparatively pleasant.”
Kumar said the traffic signals have come as a “blessing in disguise.”
“Earlier we had to go here and there… Now we remain stationed at the signals,” said a beggar family.
“We don’t venture into each others territories because that triggers brawls. But yes swapping does take place,” shared a group of beggars on the Jehangir Chowk traffic signal.
VIOLATION OF NORMS
Experts said begging is banned and that police was bound to take action. Prominent lawyer Bashir Ahmed Bashir who has been constantly highlighting the beggary menace, said: “This is a cognizable offence and any police officer under Section 4 can arrest beggar without any warrant and the offence is punishable from one year to three years by summary trial.”
The Senior Advocate argued that “If an individual can be detained for protection of political order why can’t these beggars be detained for protection of social order. Why should they (cops) not implement the prevention of Beggars Act by constructing Sick Homes/Beggar Homes and Children Homes for the detention of beggars to save the public from this menace.”
Who’ll check the menace?
With beggars taking over the traffic signals, who will keep check at the traffic signals? Observers said the SMC in collaboration with local police was bound to keep check on the menace.
“If police can bash women for protests against power, why the men in Khaki can't get rid of beggars,” said Ghulam Muhammad of Maharaja Bazar.
Meanwhile the SMC Commissioner Dr GN Qasba said the matter would be looked into on priority basis. “You will see results within days,” Dr Qasba told Greater Kashmir.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 26 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 26 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 27 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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