Disabled, disadvantaged, dressed in rags – begging mafia in Pakistan has gained unchallenged ground. But these living in compromised living conditions, malnutrition and struggling to access the basic necessities have a lot of evils to fight.
Pity money and begging have become an easy earning method for the less fortunate, which explains how conveniently the practice has turned into a mafia. The underclass stands every day to collect money by gaining the sympathies due to their forlorn appearance. But it isn’t as easy as it seems. From the collected money, they have to pay the police and mafia owners.
As reported by Express Tribune, investigators say begging has turned into an organized business. The beggars have to pay the mafia controlling key locations where they are deployed or lease out land on daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Speaking to the above-mentioned source, Mukhtiar, has already turned into a veteran beggar in Saddar, Rawalpindi in his early teens. Mukhtiar admitted that he has to pay his cut to the ‘thekedaars’ – or the gang ringleaders and sometimes to the cops as well.
“Whenever I beg at main crossings, traffic lights or markets, I have to pay a small cut, sometimes 20-50 rupees or even 100 to the thekedar, otherwise they will beat me and expel from the area”– Mukhtiar said speaking to ET.
Sakina Bibi, mother of 5 children said she begs to support her kids and drug addict husband. She said that she worked as a housemaid previously but left after the employers blamed her for theft. She said that working as a maid is very hard. You work for over 12 hours and if something is missing from the home, you are accused and doubted.
“I can make 300-400 rupees ($3-4) a day but sometimes it is just 60-70 rupees” – she said.
Begging is punishable by up to three years in Pakistan but the cases hardly meet the courts. The police also takes bribe from them to let them continue where they want to.
In 2011, the Lahore High Court ruled that strict measures must be taken to stop the professional beggary. But there also lack proper habilitation even in welfare centres to accommodate them.
“Most beggars, if arrested, get bail. Judges also take into consideration the lack of welfare homes for destitute people and the result is that once released, offenders again start begging” – lawyer Mohammad Tayyab told Express Tribune.
Faisal Edhi said that sometimes the police round them up and bring these beggars to them but they can’t accommodate such large numbers.
“Sometimes they bring up to 1,500 beggars a day, we cannot keep them in such a big number’’ – he said.
It is alarming how it is flourishing as an industry in Pakistan – while these kids can earn more by begging every day as compared to a child spending his entire day during hard labour at brick kilns.
Via: Express Tribune
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