Act against the mafia

Children, women being pushed into begging
Their number has drastically increased this summer. Be it road intersections (traffic signals), markets, petrol pumps, religious places or hospitals, the presence of beggars is very much there. [File]
Their number has drastically increased this summer. Be it road intersections (traffic signals), markets, petrol pumps, religious places or hospitals, the presence of beggars is very much there. [File] Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

The government must devise a mechanism to strictly deal with mafia who for their vested interests push people, particularly young children and women, into beggary and make them to beg at public places in Srinagar city. Reports say the elements associated with these mafia hire men, women and children for begging.

These people are brought to Srinagar mainly from outside. Reports say that at some places the beggars are dropped at public places in the morning and picked up in the evening by the members of organised gangs.

Their number has drastically increased this summer. Be it road intersections (traffic signals), markets, petrol pumps, religious places or hospitals, the presence of beggars is very much there.

Even they are seen outside several educational institutions. Reports say, organised gangs are behind this and they need to be taken to task. In 2018, the administration in Srinagar had banned begging at public places by invoking the J&K Prevention of Begging Act.

Subsequently, the beggars were removed from the public places and also taken into custody. But in October, 2019, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court de-criminalised begging and asserted that the “begging manifests failure of the state to ensure basic entitlements of health, food, clothing, shelter”.

The court described the begging as a human rights issue. Hearing a public interest litigation, the high court struck down the J&K Prevention of Beggary Act-1960 and J&K Prevention of Beggary Rules-1964 calling them “unconstitutional” and “disproportionate infringement of the right to meaningful life, dignity, privacy and liberty guaranteed under Article 21”.

“The criminalisation of begging, which makes poverty an offence, is intended to remove poor people from public spaces, deprive them of the constitutional guarantees of inclusiveness and pluralism, and results in their further deprivation,” the high court said.

After the court direction, the authorities stopped taking action against the beggars. But organised mafia take undue advantage and keep on pushing more and more people into beggary.

The young children, who should have been in schools are at public places begging. Their future is ruined. A mechanism has to be devised so that the directions of the court are adhered to but the mafia is not allowed to take undue advantage also.

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