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    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    Million beggars Invade Ramazan.

    Photo by Gerald Copyrighted

    Karachi, a beggar's paradise, continues to provide for many

    * 1 million beggars have arrived in city for Ramazan package, says Rana Asif

    By Irfan Aligi

    KARACHI: Professional beggars, mostly women and children, can be seen in the streets and shopping centers of Karachi throughout the year but their number increases greatly in the holy month of Ramazan.

    There are 360 beggar families, called Badree, permanently settled in Jamshed Town in Chanesar Goth. The Badree community, whose prime business is beggary and prostitution, can also be found in Quetta and Rohri. Moreover, there are more than 250 huts of another group of beggars, commonly known as 'Mangarr' (Seraiki for beggar), set up on encroached land opposite the University of Karachi.

    There are around 60 Burmese and Bengali colonies in the city, with a population of approximately 1.5 million. The colonies are spread from Machhar Colony to Ibrahim Hyderi, Teen Hatti to Orangi Town and Korangi to 100 Quarters. A majority of these people are linked to the fishery and textile industry but when unemployed, they resort to begging, mostly in the vicinity of Jama Cloth Market and the various shrines of the city, including the shrines of Abdullah Shah Ghazi and Alam Shah. Other areas frequented by the residents of these colonies include Super Market, Clifton, Hyderi Market, North Nazimabad, Ayesha Manzil, Water Pump in Federal B Area and Abul Hassan Esphahani Road in Gulshan-e-Iqbal.

    To make matters worse, a good number of Afghan immigrants have settled around Sohrab Goth, Nusrat Bhutto Colony, Banaras Chowk, Landhi Fisher Colony, Shireen Jinnah Colony, Khurkar Chowrangi and Abdullah Shah Ghazi's tomb. Talking to Daily Times, Initiator Human Development Foundation (IHDF) President Rana Asif Habib said that normally there are around 100,000 beggars in the city but during Ramazan, the average number of beggars surpasses one million.

    A majority of the beggars hail from Southern Punjab, including Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur, Khanpur Katora, Bahawalpur and Sadiqabad. These beggars who have occupied areas from NIPA Chowrangi to Hassan Square in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Town are covertly involved in prostitution as well. The beggars operate in an organized manner and have lords who shelter them from the police and government authorities. For example, Bada Babu is in charge of the beggars of Burns Road, while Chota Multani and Arshad Gujranwalia are in charge of other areas.

    According to Habib, Essa Nagri is the beauty parlor of beggars. Make-up experts prepare children and women with burnt faces and other deformities, helping them earn around Rs 2,000 a day. "These beggars are also involved in child abduction, as are the snake charmers of Manghopir. Hijrat Colony and Sultanabad are the areas where infants are hired on a daily basis by women. Each infant is hired for Rs 500 daily and enables the women to easily make around Rs 1,500 to 2,000 daily," he added.

    Furthermore, sale of women is also a thriving business in Machhar Colony. Recently, Tufail alias Kulli's mother and sister were sold to Imam Mooli of the Qazi Ahmed area in Nawabshah for Rs 50,000. Mooli had bought them to work at his cattle yard but married Tufail's mother, with Nanoo Dallal preparing their Nikah papers for Rs 10,000. "Although, Tufail's mother escaped and returned to Machhar Colony but her daughter is still with Mooli," said Habib.


    The beggarwomen of Essa Nagri also sell their sons to public transport drivers for around Rs 300 to Rs 500 for a night. These sodomites are provided with rooms and normally, four to five drivers and conductors use the child for the whole night, distributing the expenses equally. It is also a well known fact that the beggars and the area police share an understanding, with the SHO's agent collecting around Rs 300 to Rs 500 daily. Areas are auctioned and beggars from other areas are banned from entering the areas of other beggars and in case any outsider is found, he or she is handed over to the police.

    According to Ansar Burney Welfare Trust (ABWT) Vice Chairman Sarim Burney, beggary has become an international issue today. "Human traffickers are engaged in sending poor and crippled people to Middle East countries, promising them high incomes. ABWT has brought back many children from Saudi Arabia, including a 12-year-old girl, S, of Rahim Yar Khan. She was sent to Saudi Arabia and was told to sit outside a mosque and beg for charity," said Burney.

    Similarly, Asad, a handicapped boy, was also sent to Saudi Arabia and forced to beg outside a mosque. Though, he earned around 250 to 350 Saudi Riyals per day, the agents did not give a single penny to Asad's family. ABWT has provided the boy with a three-wheeler and helped him set up a public call office (PCO) in the vicinity of the city courts.

    "Begging is an easy source of income and so eunuchs have also pounded the city. Basically, it is the duty of government to take concrete steps for the eradication of this social evil. Those who give these beggars money are unintentionally promoting beggary," commented Burney. A professional beggar told Daily Times that he gets between Rs 800 to 2,000 per day. "Public transport is one of the best places, as women are easily motivated to donate. The only condition that the transporters have is that the beggars should come across as a cleric or a student of a religious seminary," he said.


    Recently, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan had planned an eradication drive and was also looking to set up reform schools for beggars in Ojha Medical Centre.

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