GUJRAT: The Punjab government has launched an aggressive campaign against beggary across the province during which criminal cases are being lodged against those involved in it whereas a large number of children have also been rescued during the drive.

The official sources said that at least 3,400 cases have so far been lodged against the beggary rings and their operators/handlers out of which at least 3,500 have been arrested whereas over 1,000 children have been rescued during the drive in last couple of weeks. They said the provincial home department had been spearheading the campaign and report was being collected from across the province on a daily basis for which the respective district administrations had been tasked.

Shuja Qutab Bhatti, director general Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CP&WB), told Dawn the bureau, police and the district administrations of the province had jointly launched the drive after Chief Minister Usman Buzdar took notice of beggary along the roads and public places. He said that as per law, only the CP&WB could operate against the child beggary and so far in the last two weeks the bureau had rescued at least 1,054 children up to the age of 15 years in the province; however, police and administration had been tasked to act against the adult beggary.

CP&WB appoints focal persons in districts

The CP&WB has a mandate of rehabilitating child beggars and it is doing a colossal job, Mr Bhatti claimed.

Moreover, he added that since the CP&WB did not have its offices in all 36 districts of Punjab, it was apprehended that after an aggressive campaign in Lahore the groups involved in beggary might spread to other parts of province that’s why bureau had expanded its operations through notifying the focal persons for child protection in those districts where the CP&WB offices did not exist.

Mr Bhatti said focal persons had been tasked to submit their daily reports. For instances, he added, two officers each in Gujranwala and Sialkot child protection institutes (CPI) had been appointed as focal persons in Mandi Bahauddin, Hafizabad, Gujrat and Narowal district, respectively to make the drive more effective.

An official of the local administration said the adult beggars were a domain of social welfare department and the department had established homes to rehabilitate the beggars but these beggar homes were lying empty as the department had not been taking any action against the adult beggars.

It is learnt that the home department had also issued directions to all deputy commissioners to launch anti-beggary campaign in their districts.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2021

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