Posts Tagged ‘beg’

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Panhandlers flock to U.A.E. for Ramadan begging season

August 14, 2012

Muslim beggars are migrating west from India to the United Arab Emirates to shake down wealthy Gulf residents this Ramadan.  No word on how the alms seekers are paying for their airfare, but it sounds like it’s worth the investment.

At first we wondered if bulk cash smuggling were taking place as money is moved out of Dubai and back into India without being declared, but from the article it appears as though hawala is the primary mechanism for the capital flight.  The article doesn’t mention it, but hawala is essentially illegal in India.  Yet regulators and law enforcement seem to let this activity continue with impunity.

Thanks to Puneet for sending this eyebrow-raising article in from the Times of India on Aug. 10:

Indians pack bags for Dubai ‘begging fest’ during Ramzan

CHENNAI: Scores of Indians are flying to Dubai on a ‘business opportunity’ during Ramzan. Not all of them return soon enough though, as the business of begging is an offence in the Gulf country.

The Dubai police have arrested 131 people, including 16 from Tamil Nadu, for begging during the holy month. Devout Muslims are generous with alms (zakat) during Ramzan, though seeking alms in public can land one in trouble.

Diplomatic sources said a lot of Asians head for Dubai during the season. A beggar from Pakistan was caught with 18,000 Dirhams (around 2.45 lakh) during a recent raid. According to the Dubai police, this is an annual organised operation. “Even employed people come from different countries to seek alms in Dubai during Ramzan,” said a source. “After paying for their return tickets and the short stay, they still carry a handsome amount back home.”

A youth employed in a media organization in Dubai boasted that he made a cool 1,200 Dirhams (16,200) in a matter of ten minutes by seeking arms on the road a few days ago.

Though details of Indians arrested for begging in Dubai were not known, sources said that all of them had Indian passports and visit visas valid for 45 days. Diplomatic sources said they were from Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. Those from Tamil Nadu hailed from Vellore, Ramanathapuram and Tirunelveli districts.

Those arrested are produced before courts and serve a jail term of up to three months. “Those who come to beg here know the penalty. Many think it is worth taking the risk,” said an Indian diplomat in the Gulf.

This year a number of police officials, some of who are women, have fanned out to mosques and shopping malls in the emirate to nab the beggars. A Dubai visit visa for example can be obtained for 75,000 through an agent and this investment is much less compared to the kind of money one could make from begging. The money obtained by begging cannot be transferred to India through official banking channels. Hawala operators help solve this problem with a 24 x 7 service to move money from Dubai to Tamil Nadu.

This is the system used by illegal Indian labourers in the Gulf as they cannot open a bank account or send money through exchange houses as they do not have a valid passport or a residential visa.

Bahrain, Muscat and Qatar are also preferred begging destinations during Ramzan.

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Pakistan: Beggars belong “behind bars”

August 18, 2011

Take note, dear readers, of the marvelous social justice of Islam.  The Pakistan Observer is calling for professional beggars in Islamabad and Rawalpindi to be imprisoned.  Meanwhile, Western newspapers tell us that Ramadan is a time of “peace and generosity.”  OK, enjoy Ramadan in jail, beggars!

The Observer also editorializes that the “growing number of beggars, in fact, makes mockery of schemes like Zakat and Ushr system, Pakistan Baitul Maal, Benazir Income Support Programme and Waseela-e-Haq.”  At least that part is a true statement.  With as many purported welfare and zakat programs as Pakistan operates, both officially run by the government and informally conducted by “charitable” organizations, one would expect fewer, not more beggars.

But as we’ve noted before, more zakat = more poverty.

Menace of beggary

A latest report has brought into sharp focus the menace of beggary in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi especially in the context of the holy month of Ramazan, as professional beggars are swarming every nook and corner of the two cities but the police and administration are least bothered to take any action against them.

The report points out that the situation has become so much worrisome that attractive business locations are covertly auctioned allegedly by corrupt elements in police and other concerned departments for large sums of money called ‘Bhatta’ (extortion). Their activities at road-crossings have also become a hazard for smooth flow of traffic and sometime lead to mess and even fatal accidents. Though the report speaks about the twin cities but similar scenes are also common in other towns and cities where professional beggars have made lives of the people miserable. There are also reports that some of these professional beggars are also part of the networks of thieves and dacoits as they gather information about possible victims and targets and either pass on to these networks or indulge in criminal activities themselves. There are two aspects of the problems of beggary — professionals whose only mission is to mint money and many of them earn more than hardworking businessmen; and those who are forced to beg because of abysmal poverty and lack of economic or employment opportunities. As for the first category, the authorities should show no flexibility and send them behind the bars while data of others should be collected and necessary financial assistance provided to them to start their own businesses or receive cash assistance in cases where no family member of the beggar is in a position to do any business. Growing number of beggars, in fact, makes mockery of schemes like Zakat and Ushr system, Pakistan Baitul Maal, Benazir Income Support Programme and Waseela-e-Haq.

See Money Jihad‘s prior coverage here of Karachi’s anti-beggar crackdown.

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Pakistan’s anti-beggar Ramadan smackdown

August 8, 2011

Allah may be merciful, bountiful, and compassionate, but Pakistan is not.  Leading into the holy month of Ramadan, Karachi is contemplating an offensive against an influx of unwelcome beggars.

One official dismissed them as “professional beggars” involved in “crimes.”  Citizens and policy makers are complaining that more isn’t being done to “combat begging.”

Remember, Pakistan is one of a few countries in the world with legally mandated zakat, the proceeds of which are said to be given to the poor  (although news reports have indicated that only half of Pakistan’s zakat goes to the poor).  Enlightened Western intellectuals have told us that zakat is remarkable anti-poverty program and a sign of social justice.  Yeah, right.

From The News International on Jul. 24:

Number of beggars rising in city ahead of Ramazan

As soon as the holy month of Ramazan comes closer, the number of beggars coming to Karachi from various parts of the country increases day by day.

The number of beggars in the city Karachi exceeds the estimated figures shown by the government.

“The number of beggars is much higher than what the latest statistics indicate. Most of the beggars come to Karachi from other parts of the country to earn more money during Ramazan,” said Muhammad Ali, president of Roshni Help Line.

He said that his organisation would soon start a campaign for mapping various areas, keeping data of beggars’ groups to compliment efforts for the safety and security of children in the city.

Answering a question, he said that professional beggars roamed free in all corners of the city and nobody knew or suspected in what criminal activities they were involved since there was no record of them.

It had been observed that “many of these professional beggars are suspected of involvement in different crimes related to children, including kidnappings”, he added.

Ali said beggars kidnapped children between 3 and 5 for beggary. He said this was due to the fact that no government organisation kept a close eye on the beggars.

He noted that the numbers of beggars were growing on the streets of Karachi, especially at traffic signals, near shopping malls and outside mosques. The majority of the beggars hailing from various parts were not only old men, women and children, but also young men who were able to work, he added.

Ali said that another remarkable feature was that begging continued throughout the day and night, and even women and young children stayed up till the early hours.

“During last year’s floods, we established our camp in Makli. We found there many beggar families of Karachi, getting medicines and food aid.”

Commenting on the growing phenomenon, some citizens said beggars were now coming right to their homes. “They do not hesitate to knock on the door, especially in the afternoons, to ask for money. This is a grave matter with serious security implications,” one citizen said. He did not want to be identified.

A number of concerned officials and citizens criticised the relevant offices for failing to combat begging. They accused the authorities of slackness in their response to calls by citizens informing them of beggars at certain places. “We are asked to call these offices to report beggars but there is no one there to heed our calls,” a citizen said.

The citizens asked the Ministry of Social Welfare to either put pressure on these offices or close them down. They also called for providing the offices with qualified human cadre, cars and other facilities as well as for introduction of a single helpline to handle reports of beggars.

Many citizens who spoke to The News believed that many beggars came to Karachi from various parts to continue their business. They said security procedures to combat begging must be revamped.

Researchers interviewed said that awareness programmes against begging had not been effective. They called for more effective programmes that would convince people about the dangers posed by beggars.

They also said the programmes should inform people about where they should direct their charity given that the country was full of welfare societies that administered charity properly to the poor.