The city police have arrested 309 beggars from six police divisions as part of its anti-beggary campaign launched on Friday.
A similar campaign had been launched by the city government in September 2013, but it lost momentum after the then district coordination officer was transferred.
Since Friday, the police have also handed over 16 children to the Child Protection Bureau. The beggars arrested have been booked under the Anti-Beggary Act. The deputy inspector general police said the campaign will continue for at least a week.
The police will also request the city government to join them in the campaign.
Operations DIG Rana Abdul Jabbar said the campaign will continue for at least a week. He said they knew it was a bailable offence so they would just register FIRs against the beggars they apprehended. The most important goal of this campaign, he said, is to protect young children from indulging in this habit of earning easy money. Children found begging on the streets will be handed over to the Child Protection Bureau. He said destitute older people will be sent to Edhi Homes. Beggars have become a regular nuisance for motorists, he said. Healthy young people pretended to be handicapped and children carrying buckets of soapy water to wash windscreens had become a regular feature on the streets.
Jabbar said it wasn’t the police’s responsibility to launch such campaigns. That is why, he said, they would write to the city government to join them.
The city government too will re-launch its campaign against beggary in the city. Staff Officer to DCO Tariq Zaman said the campaign will be launched on Monday.
District Coordination Officer Ahmad Javeed Qazi says the campaign had never stopped, however it will be launched once again with full force from Monday. He said the government was presently occupied in several other campaigns. He said the district administration was currently very busy with its anti-encroachment drive.
The city government officer in charge of running the campaign told The Express Tribune that it had stopped a while back.
The plan for the campaign had been prepared by former Lahore DCO Noorul Amin Mengal and adopted by former DCO Naseem Sadiq’s administration. The city government had then planned to send destitute beggars to shelters and launch a proper crackdown against the begging mafia.
The city police and Child Protection Bureau had been taken on board to assist the government in its crackdown. The bureau had prepared accommodation for 50 children in the first phase of the campaign and 200 children in the following phases. The government had also renovated a building at Raiwind to be used as a rehabilitation centre. The Buildings Department is yet to hand over the building to the government.
According to the plan [drafted during Mengal’s tenure] three non-government organisations had been requested to join the campaign.
Edhi Homes had promised to accommodate 100 men beggars and Bilqees Edhi Homes, 100 women beggars. The Subhani Foundation had agreed to accommodate 250 men and women beggars. However, the campaign was placed on hold after the present DCO assumed charge.
Deputy District Officer Ashraf Janjua said the social welfare office was not directly involved in the campaign however some of their staff had been placed at Staff Officer to DCO Tariq Zaman’s disposal to help with the campaign.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2014.
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