SMC commissioner blames people for giving alms
Srinagar: The moment the traffic light turns red, seven-year-old Nand Kishor runs, barefoot, towards the cars that stop at the traffic signal at Bemina crossing. One by one he knocks at their windows and gestures for money. A few people take out a small sum and give it to him. Those who do not, find Kishor clinging to the door of their car when it starts moving.
“Everyone has his own style of convincing people to pay,” Kishor tells this correspondent with a smile. “This is my way of convincing people of my desperation. My parents say that during these days (of Ramzan), people will pay.”
Apart from begging in his own style, Kishor sells balloons for 10 rupees each on the city streets.
Faraaq Ahmad Bazaz, a resident of Bagh-i-Mehtab, is a commuter who frequently has to face Kishor-like tactics from street beggars and street sellers. He said that usually an adult displays the goods he is selling while the kids in his group circle the vehicle and beg for alms. “This is the technique they apply. They sell their product as well as earn extra money too,” Bazaz said.
He said that one day a child beggar had a narrow escape when he tried to stop his Wagon-R car. A group of people, according to him, assembled to see whether the child was alive or dead.
“Thank god I pulled the handbrake, otherwise I would have been jailed. Who would have listened to me? Police were seeing everything but they did not bother to chase away the beggars,” he said.
In the holy month of Ramazan, especially, the number of beggars on the streets increases dramatically. Many non-local beggars also appear to partake of the sadaqa and zakkat given in generous quantity in this month.
Syed Insha Andrabi, a BSc student, said that beggars cause problems to students like her. She said that beggars, mostly non-locals, follow students up to some destination, touch their feet, and even tug at their clothes when they are walking on the streets.
“They don’t allow us to walk freely. Every time they come across me, I have to spend 10 to 15 rupees to prevent them from following me,” she said.
Another student, Umer Imtiyaz, said that beggars mostly target teenagers and couples. “They know they have a high scope of extracting money from them because couples seek blessing for their good future,” he said.
While speaking with Kashmir Reader, Srinagar Municipal Corporation Commissioner Dr Shafkat Khan said, “We are also responsible for the increase in beggars during the month of Ramadhan. We give money to beggars for the sake of charity.”