By: Saif Ali Budgami
I am sure most of you may get confused to consider it charity or evil. And truly hard to name it with the human conscience.
I am not against Alms or charity, however through practical experience get shocked to see “A brave man with a begging bowl to beg, and a handicapped with the weighting machine to earn”. And should be knowing that most of the times, our Alms become injustice if handed to un-needy knowingly.
If you need to visit Srinagar or the other main towns in Kashmir I suggest you not be unconscious kind and generous otherwise you will have to return with empty pockets. That too by your kindness encourages the evil.
Donning untidy and tattered clothes these beggars are a common sight outside religious shrines, shopping malls, bus stops, Schools, Colleges, Universities, hospitals and now commonly entering the offices to get the employees rewarded. Apart from this, they thrive on the streets, traffic signals, road intersection and parks, pestering common people. Some common voices you hear from these beggars are: Allah “ap ki jodi ko salamat rakhay” (May Allah bless your couple) no matter if they are siblings or share any other relation, again another lucrative voice is “Kal say kuch nahi khayaa”(Haven’t eaten anything since yesterday) Further if watching anyone having a pen melodiously saying “Baba Allah aap ko Exam mai Kamyaab kare” (May you get succeeded in your exams) even if he/she is illiterate.
Next face is pleasant from Kashmiri Knowledgeable brave young beggars. You ask them why you beg as you are fit to earn? You will receive strange reply ,Ye Che Suunat (It’s Sunnaht) the brave youth who are cream of Islam do defame the name of Islam, quoting Holly Hadiths and confidently order Ye che Ye-te mujood ta-te mujood (It will benefit you here and hereafter as well) after getting something from house hold reply with Khuda Kare Barkath (May you advance in business).
Coming back to another tragedy as sympathizing with their pathetic condition is acceptable as you cannot jump out of your skin, but giving alms to them is like contributing to the evolving profession, and contributing to the business of those people who groom these young children into begging by chopping off their limbs. If we delve into the history of this.
Even today, we get to see that some people get annoyed by the consistent presence and plea of these beggars. This evil is increasing day by day in the city, perhaps because of the sympathetic people of Kashmir. The religious places are enormously becoming begging centers where a large number of beggars scattered throughout the premises could be found, some begging alms and others trying to regain sympathy by making emotional appeals. We often see children mutilated and disfigured being subjected to begging. Most of them are from outside the state.
Some turn away their faces, some race their engines quickly at road signals, some roll up their car windows, while as some pat their pockets to look for some change and hand over a few coins to the miserable souls in order to get rid of the pestering and unwanted bodies, who are always loitering around.
They have found Kashmiris more generous then others when it comes to receiving alms. Another quality which these beggars possess is their omnipresence. Whether it is scorching sun or biting cold or tremendous flow of rain, beggars of every age will greet you everywhere with their haggard looks, bruised and limbless body, cracked and flaky face. Some who seek the same easy ways of making money have gone to the extent of rendering themselves limbless by allowing the amputation of their healthy limbs, and move on roller-boards. Sometimes infants are also hired and then carried by these beggars on their shoulders to seek the attention of passersby’s. In some cases, infants are starved and many suffer forceful injuries as their screams would seek high sympathy of people. In such cases many infants give up determination and lose their precious lives. This makes it an issue of serious concern. With the alarming increase in the number of beggars around the cities, another matter of supreme concern is that it has become extremely difficult for people to identify the genuine needy and helpless: some who adopt it because of extreme poverty or some who are disabled.
Simultaneously, the inspirational characters are yet to be seen. As above hinted, honestly our hearts beat to see the most needy persons toil hard to earn and don’t let their respect loose by begging. Almost sympathy strikes your heart to help them and you do, but they will always refuse and struggle hard themselves.
Quoting from my practical incidence I daily see a Mas woul (one who collects hair and sells small toys to children in exchange especially in villages) who has no arms having a bag of toys in his neck and telling children to take their toys accordingly on amount of hair in their hands.
I am dam sure that all of us are usual of witnessing such incidents, nevertheless a few catch the lesson. And as responsibility this lesson should be taught to the other brave beggars you witness daily who are becoming the evil for our society.
The Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Beggary Act, 1960, specifically states: “Any beggar, exhibiting any sore, wound, injury, deformity or disease to earn money is a cognizable offence and any police officer under section 4 can arrest the beggar without any warrant and the offence is punishable with imprisonment for one year to three years by summary trial.
Despite the law against begging, the evil continues to be unabated and uncontrolled.
By: Saif Ali Budgami
M.A Political Science, M.A Convergent Journalism