Beggars Beware: Law Calls For Arrest, Detention

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SRINAGAR: Beggary has turned into a major social menace in Kashmir despite stringent laws prescribing punitive detention from one to seven years. Apart from a large number of local practitioners of the profession, Kashmir hosts tens of thousands of beggars from outside without any let or hindrance.

The government today told the assembly that anyone found begging could be arrested without warrant, and detained in a Sick Home, Children’s Home, or Beggars’ Home for one to three years for the first offence, and for not less than seven years for the second offence, after conviction.     

 “The Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Beggary Act (JKPBA) has been enacted in the year 1960. Section 3 of the Act provides that if any person is found begging within an area to which this Act applies, he shall be guilty of an offence under this Act,” minister for planning and development Ajay Sadhotra said on behalf of the home minister in reply to a question by BR Kundal.

“Section 4 of the Act provides for arrest of any person without a warrant who is found begging. Sub-section 4 of Section 5 of the Act provides that if a person is declared a beggar by a court, it shall order his detention in a Sick Home, Children’s Home or a Beggars Home as the case may be for a period not less than one year and not more than three years in the case of first offence,” Sadhotra said.

“When a person is convicted for the second time, the court shall order him to be detained in a Sick Home, Beggars Home or Children’s Home, as the case may be, for not less than seven years,” he said.

“The Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Beggars Rules, 1964, have also been notified in 1965. Due to prevailing situation in the state for the past two decades, the infrastructure in the shape of Sick Homes, Beggar Homes and Children Homes etc could not be set up on account of which enforcement of the Act has not been possible in letter and spirit,” he said.

 The minister said that some steps, including clearing roadsides and footpaths, particularly in areas of tourists’ importance, had been taken, and that  field officers had been directed to ensure police presence in areas of their jurisdiction to prevent beggars from causing nuisance to the public.

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