Beggars are an eye sore and menace in every society. In Sri Lanka, they are a common sight in in buses and trains when people embark on long distance journeys. Most sing for their supper entertaining commuters, then there are the disabled and destitute mothers pleading for help to feed their infants. However, people are wary of tricksters who have made begging a profession.
During a crackdown by security officers recently at a railway station in Ragama, a suburb of Colombo, 18 people begging inside train compartments were taken into custody.
More significantly, one of the poor souls turned out to be a rich beggar, according to a report in sinhala daily Lankadeepa.
It was discovered that he was the owner of a van, two three wheelers (auto rickshaws) and had Rs.2 million (approximately Dh58,000) in his bank account.
At the time of his arrest he had collected over Rs4,000 (Dh114) within two hours, the Railway Security personnel said.
This wealthy beggar has rented out his two three wheelers and earns a daily income.
Although he is disabled, he travels to Ragama railway station in his van and enters the station for his job.
During the course of investigations it was revealed that while begging, he dresses up in dirty clothes and late in the evening he relaxes at home in a clean outfit. A resident of Narammala from Kurunegala, is situated in the North Western Province, he has been in this 'profession' for a long time.
The raid took place when passengers complained of beggar menace.
Each beggar was fined Rs2,000 (Dh57) by a Colombo magistrate. If they could not afford to pay the fine, they face six months imprisonment suspended for five years.
Job offer turns into a nightmare