Islamabad-Organised groups of professional beggars are on the loose in the capital and seeking alms from people round the clock with no action on part of authorities concerned.

The presence of tens of hundreds of professional beggars on the roads and streets of heavily guarded capital not only causes a nuisance for people and road users but poses a serious security threat to the city as criminals and terrorists could hide among these people. 

Motorway Morr, Daewoo Bus Terminal, Golra Sharif, E-11 Markaz, Shaheen Chowk, Faisal Chowk, F-11, F-10, F-9, F-8 Markaz, Islamabad district courts, Faisal Mosque, Jinnah Super, Aabpara, Karachi Company, PIMS, Blue Area, I-10 Markaz, Sabzi Mandi, Melody Food Park, Bari Imam, G-9, G-10, G-11 Markaz and traffic signals, Khanna Bridge, Bhara Kahu and suburbs are fully under-control of begging mafia. Foremost, Super Market, one of the highly sensitive places in capital, has become a hotspot of beggars.

These gangs of professional beggars are seen on traffic signals, worship places, schools, colleges, universities, government run hospitals, restaurants and in markets.

A source disclosed to The Nation that the powerful begging mafia is being backed by high and mighty who have allegedly purchased the points of federal capital to depute physically disabled beggars to seek alms from people. He said that the contractors have hired hundreds of professional beggars from different districts on daily or monthly wage. Some women are also hiring infants on rent from families living in Katchi Abadis in suburbs of the capital, he said adding that some children are also being hired from families working in brick kilns along with motorway in Tanol and Fateh Jang areas. 

Talking to The Nation on Thursday, Shahzaib Khan, a property dealer in Tarnol area, said that the begging mafia has captured the city while all the measures put in place by police to curb the menace of begging have failed woefully. 

He said that Afghan displaced families residing along railway tracks as well as in Tarnol are also involved in sending their children and young girls to thug public in disguise of beggars. He urged the Inspector General of Police Islamabad and Deputy Commissioner to launch a crackdown against the professional beggars to kick them out from the capital. 

Zubair Ahsan, a government servant who is residing in E-11, was of view that a strong begging network has been ruling over Islamabad for the last many years but police and the district administration are seemingly in deep slumber as no action is being taken against the mafias. He alleged that police used to pick beggars from traffic signals and on roads and clicked their pictures to show on media and then set them free in the evening while providing them an opportunity to throng markets and other places the next day.

Azhar Khan, a resident of F-11, told The Nation that the begging mafia is also involved in dacoities and house robberies in the federal capital. He said that the professional criminals have women beggars who share information about the targeted houses to the gangsters. An effective and strong campaign against begging mafia can make the difference in the city, he said. He urged police to launch a crackdown against beggars in the capital to maintain law and order. 

“I feel much disturbance when the flock of beggars attacks my car on traffic signals in the capital when I go to office,” said Sabeeq Khatoon, a legal consultant of a housing society in Islamabad. She said that the beggars use foul language if they are not given alms.  

Another citizen namely Aftab Ahmed was of the view that a gang of beggars has adopted a unique technique to fleece road users by holding a small wiper and water bottle to clean the windscreen of vehicles on traffic signals. He said the beggars forcefully sprayed water on the windscreen of the car and wiped it later with demanding Rs 20 to 30 from vehicle owners.

Qamar, a spokesman to IG Islamabad, however, when contacted, said that police are making efforts to clean the city from begging mafia.  He said that police have arrested more than 1,646 beggars including women, children, boys, girls and aged people. He said that cases are being registered against adults whereas the children are being shifted to Edhi