Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - METRO - BY KUSAL CHAMATH

Beg­ging in met­ro­pol­i­tan trains has in­creased, much to the an­noy­ance of the pas­sen­gers, par­tic­u­larly in the fully packed Colombo bound trains in the morn­ing. Pas­sen­gers said the beg­gars dressed in dirty clothes squeeze them­selves into the crowded trains with­out least con­cern about its in­con­ve­nience to the pas­sen­gers. They pointed out that the beg­gars con­sid­ered their dirty rags a uni­form for their pro­fes­sion.

One of the beg­gars car­ry­ing his wife on his back, claim­ing that she is hand­i­capped and un­able to walk, boards trains packed to their ca­pac­ity and creeps through the crowd. It is sur­pris­ing why he could not work even as a man­ual worker and main­tain his wife if he is strong enough and healthy to carry his wife on his back.

A young man swal­low­ing swords is a cyno­sure of the crowd, but many pas­sen­gers keep their eyes shut or glance through the win­dow to avoid the grue­some scene. They said the in­di­vid­u­als may be play­ing a trick and not ac­tu­ally swal­low­ing the swords, but the chil­dren who no­ticed it could ex­per­i­ment it by swal­low­ing knives or any­thing they found in place of swords.

An em­ployee of a pri­vate sec­tor in­sti­tu­tion in Colombo Su­ma­naratne Dee­godaga­m­age (40) said beg­gars were at lib­erty to carry on their trade with­out least con­cern about its an­noy­ance to the pas­sen­gers.

“We have laws to take ac­tion against in­di­vid­u­als caus­ing pub­lic an­noy­ance but it is in ques­tion why that law does not ap­ply to the train ser­vice. If two men cre­ate a rowdy scene af­ter drinks in a pub­lic place they are li­able to le­gal ac­tion against them. How­ever the rail­way au­thor­i­ties are mori­bund in­ac­tive about the pub­lic an­noy­ance caused by the beg­gars. Most of th­ese in­di­vid­u­als are in a po­si­tion to do a job and earn their liv­ing but they have re­sorted to beggary to make a fast buck to find money for drugs. They are not gen­uinely in beggary,” he said.

An­other pas­sen­ger Ka­mal Weeras­inghe (35) from Hikkaduwa, a tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer in a gov­ern­ment depart­ment said beg­ging in trains would bring dis­re­pute to the coun­try. He pointed out that tourists trav­el­ling by trains were quite of­ten the main tar­get of the beg­gars.

Pas­sen­gers re­quested the Rail­way Se­cu­rity Ser­vice and the of­fi­cers in rail­way sta­tions to carry out raids to pre­vent beggary in trains.

Mean­while se­nior of­fi­cials of the Rail­way Se­cu­rity Ser­vice said they were car­ry­ing out con­tin­ual raids to pre­vent the nui­sance of beg­gars and ped­dlers in the trains, but they did not re­ceive any pub­lic co­op­er­a­tion. He pointed out that the only way to co­op­er­ate with the rail­way au­thor­i­ties to pre­vent this nui­sance was to re­frain from char­ity and pa­tron­iz­ing the ped­dlers.

Pas­sen­gers re­quested the Rail­way Se­cu­rity Ser­vice and the of­fi­cers in rail­way sta­tions to carry out raids to pre­vent beggary in trains

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