Oman


Anti-begging squad plans to step up raids in Muscat


For illustrative purpose only

Muscat: In a bid to pre-empt the menace of begging that is expected to peak during the Holy Month of Ramadan, the Ministry of Social Development's anti-begging squad plans to increase raids across the Muscat Governorate to nab anyone indulging in
such activity.

More than 500 beggars were caught last year by the anti-begging squad in raids across the governorate, the Ministry of Social Development's data showed.

"The anti-begging team will intensify crack downs on beggars on an even wider scale, especially during the Holy Month of Ramadan," said a reliable source at the anti-begging team.

He added that in Muscat, along with the three main bureaus, there will be random checking in malls, markets, parks, and in the vicinity of mosques.

"Our main goal is to curb the nationwide menace of begging," the source said. "Those caught begging face a jail term of two months to one year, and a fine of OMR50 to OMR100," confirmed the source.

Beggars start pestering residents for money in shopping malls and mosques with the Holy Month of Ramadan approaching. They use this pious period  to collect money. Some of the women carry infants to arouse pity and collect more money. Others knock on doors, move from one to the other street, taking in hundreds of rials during the Ramadan month.

The anti-begging department of the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) recorded 267 cases of begging, involving 206 males and 61 females, during the first half of 2013. This was despite the series of campaigns organised by the anti-begging department in all the wilayats of the Muscat Governorate.

"The instance of begging is on the rise and increases considerably during the Holy Month of Ramadan when mosques, shopping centres and even houses are invaded by beggars seeking alms," said Huzaim Al Mani, an Al Khoudh resident. He added that he noticed a considerable increase in the number of beggars and demanded the anti-begging department personnel interfere immediately and curb the menace that the residents find "very irritating."

"Most of the beggars come from Muscat as it is difficult to differentiate between them and ordinary people in public areas," said Abbas Al Ajmi, an Amerat resident. He added that most of beggars are financially well-off and can easily survive on their own but take advantage of the naïve people to make a quick buck easily.

Most of these beggars are children who are forced by their families into begging, a phenomenon noticed in most wilayats in the country.

The Ministry of Social Development usually steps up its anti-begging campaign in a number of regions of the Sultanate, especially during this time. There are reports that some beggars also attempt to steal from houses. They come in the morning when only housemaids are at home and, after distracting the domestic workers, they enter the house and snatch whatever they can.

To get in touch with the reporter fahadnews@timesofoman.com

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