ISLAMABAD-Organised gangs of professional beggars have thronged roads, streets, district courts, public transport terminals, markets and shopping malls of twin cities seeking alms from people while police and district governments have failed in keeping these gangs off from public places. 

These gangs of professional beggars include men, women, children and old-aged people. Most of them act as if they are disabled and are seen on traffic signals, worship places, schools, colleges, universities, government-run hospitals, restaurants and in markets.

The modus operandi of the gangs of street beggars is that some of them display physical deformities, while some carry emaciated babies to prey on the sympathy of citizens in twin cities. 

The beggar hotspots in Islamabad include Shaheen Chowk, Faisal Chowk, F-10, Jinnah Super, Aabpara, Karachi Company, Blue Area, I-10 Markaz, Sabzi Mandi, F-11 Markaz, G-11 Markaz, Khanna Bridge, Bhara Kahu traffic signals and suburbs. 

In Rawalpindi, herds of professional beggars can be seen busy in seeking alms from public at Mareer Chowk, Mareer Hassan, Saddar, Mall Road, Kashmir Road, Haider Road, Bank Road, Hathi Chowk, Food Street, Railway Station, Metro Bus Terminal, Murree Road, Katcheri, Jhanda Cheechi, Pirwadhai Bus Terminal, Peshawar Road, IJ Principal Road, Faizabad Bus Terminal, Raja Bazaar, Committee Chowk, Commercial Market, Double Road, Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium (Food Street), Kuri Road, Shakrial, Soan Bus Terminal, Soan Bridge, Adiala Road and suburbs. Interestingly, the premises of Holy Family Hospital, District Headquarters Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and Polyclinic are under the control of a begging mafia round the clock. Most of the young beggar girls are involved in luring young men for immoral activities in twin cities. In twin cities, flocks of the begging mafia came into action probably on Thursday and Friday in bazaars and outside mosques, whereas, most of them launch door-to-door begging campaigns in residential areas, causing immense troubles for the citizens.

A social media user accused a police mobile van of Islamabad of providing pick and drop service between F-10 and G-11 traffic signals to the children involved in begging. However, a spokesman of police rejected the claim of the social media user saying children rescued from begging gangs were being shifted to police stations in the official mobile van. Talking to The Nation on Wednesday, Ismail Ahmed, a government servant, said that the police and district government high-ups of twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad should start a mission to keep begging gangs away from roads and streets. He said that most of the baggers could be seen near the sensitive installations posing threats to the security of citizens.  

“Many areas of Rawalpindi are plagued with the curse of beggary where the beggars are walking on roads and in streets seeking alms from people,” said Ahmed Bashir, a lawyer. He said that most of the begging gangs are hiring infants on rent from poor families and use them for collecting alms.

He said that Soan Bridge, Rawalpindi district courts and government-run hospitals are the safe havens for begging mafia. He appealed to DC Rawalpindi and CPO to initiate action against the professional beggars. 

“The patience of residents of the capital is ending and now they are demanding Islamabad police and DC to bust the gangs of beggars and their facilitators/contractors,” said Noor Alam, an engineer. Beggars are on the loose on every road and street of Islamabad who harass people round the clock, he said, adding that it has been observed that mostly elderly women beggars are seen in capital using different tactics to seek alms from the people.  Saira Khan, a resident of G-11 Markaz, said that most of these women are professional beggars who come in groups and then scatter across the city.

“There are also organised gangs who deploy child beggars in crowded and ideal spots like bus stops, traffic signals, and markets to loot the public,” she said. 

Many other citizens suggested that shelter homes with legal protection should be given to women and children beggars and they must be engaged in some productive work depending on their skills. 

Deputy Commissioner Rawalpindi was not available for his comments on the issue. 

When contacted, a spokesman to Inspector General of Police (IGP) Islamabad said that the police have launched a massive crackdown against the begging mafia. 

He said that police have arrested a total of 1,646 beggars and their handlers from September 12 to September 21 from different areas of the capital. A total of 46 FIRs have also been registered against the beggars. Of 1,646 detainees, he said 55 were handlers of begging gangs; 260 female beggars; 19 shemales; 164 male beggars and 1,148 children. He said that cases are being registered against adults, whereas, children are being shifted to Edhi Centers.