Tourist influx triggers beggar problem in Ladakh

Tourist influx triggers beggar problem in Ladakh

As the number of domestic and international tourists surges post the removal of Covid restrictions on travel, beggars have also made inroads into Leh town in Ladakh in large numbers this year.

They have troubled tourists, triggering the administration and the police to launch a special drive.

Many beggars were loaded in buses and sent with police escort till Manali in Himachal Pradesh so that they do not return. The Ladakh police have also launched an investigation to know if some organised syndicate is bringing thousands of beggars to Leh.

Even hoteliers and others related to the tourism industry have complained to the police regarding the beggar menace.

Leh SHO Tsewang Dorjay says the police can’t remove beggars by force as they mostly pose as cobblers and start troubling tourists when no policeman is around.

He said the police were trying to know if these beggars were working as part of a syndicate. “Most of the beggars have come to Ladakh with families mostly from Rajasthan,” the SHO said.

The issue was discussed recently during a high-level meeting of Lieutenant Governor Brigadier BD Mishra (retd) with senior officials in Leh. Mishra directed police and other officials to take necessary measures.

PT Kunzang, chairman of the Ladakh Tourist Trade Alliance, an apex body of hotel, restaurant, taxi and other associations, said many tourists complained about the nuisance created by beggars so the police had been informed.

Hundreds of beggars are present at tourist spots, including Shanti Stupa and Leh Palace. “The beggars remain seated in front of shops and eateries due to which international tourists do not prefer entering these shops. This also creates a negative image of Ladakh,” said Kunzang.

Kunzang added that the tourist influx in Ladakh witnessed a dip as compared to last year due to different reasons including weather. He said the number of international tourists increased this year.

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