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Ramzan: A time of spiritual giving amidst the shadows of deception

Hyderabad: Strike while the iron is hot. It’s a time tested formula and it works. For some it’s time to strike when the hearts are soft. Taking advantage of the high religious fervor during Ramzan, many seek out to emotionally blackmail the devout.

As the faithful stream towards mosques, their hearts alight with the spirit of fasting and prayer, another congregation draws to the sacred spaces like moths to flame. Ramzan, a time of reflection and renewal, becomes a battleground where faith and fraud collide.

It is the time of the year when mendicancy peaks in Hyderabad. Hordes of beggars are out to squeeze dry the devout who are at their religious best. There is a flux of beggars even before the month of fasting begins. It’s no different this time. The overcrowding around mosques tells the truth. Alms seekers have descended on the mosques and market places by the dozen. A large number of interstate beggars, especially from Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra have arrived.  Also beggar gangs from nearby districts have flooded the city.

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Their tales are as varied as the expressions they wear—the blind with sightless eyes turned towards the heavens, the crippled with limbs twisted in silent supplication, the emaciated whose hunger etched lines of desperation are visible on their faces, and the able-bodied who move with a deceptive grace.

Among them also lurk the more cunning, the professionals who know the alchemy of sympathy and manipulation. Clad in rags or donning the guise of respectability, they spin tales of sorrow around the unsuspecting. Even well dressed men and women with children in arms are seen hanging around mosques narrating heart rending stories of calamities in Kashmir and Ladakh as reasons for their present plight.

“I was but a child when the tremors shook Kashmir,” she lamented, her voice choked with emotions.  “My family lost everything—the home, the livelihood. Now, I am alone,” she sobbed.

Her tale, like those of so many others, tug at the heartstrings of the faithful. There is no way of verifying the facts. Who cares? Coins and notes pour into her waiting palm, offerings of mercy and piety. The virtues of charity are so great during Ramzan that people fail to detect the trickster. As the purse-strings are loosened in the spirit of giving, hearts are filled with the warmth of generosity.

Yet, not all is as it seems. Behind the facade of suffering, a darker truth lurks. The beggars who flock the places of worship end up earning a measly amount. A chunk of their earnings, it is said, is pocketed by the mafia which employs and deploys them around mosques and marketplaces. The beggars are often seen engaging in altercations and exchanging choicest expletives violating the sanctity of the mosques.

Fed up with overcrowding of beggars and their profane activities, the Masjid Committee of Masjide Teen Posh, Nampally, has sought out police help. Committee member, Mateen Khan, has dashed off a letter to the police seeking action against the beggars. However, undeterred by the threat of removal, they remain steadfast in their pursuit of alms.

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