LAHORE Professional beggars of all ages have flocked to provincial metropolis on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr in order to make money by exploiting religious sentiments of the people on the festive occasion. A large number of beggars including men, women and children have arrived from other cities, villages and outskirts of the provincial capital. Almost all the markets, bus stands, roads, chowks and residential areas of the City are rife with beggars carrying their kids. Though, the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) ordered the immediate removal of beggars frequenting traffic signals and crossroads throughout the City some days ago, but it seems that his orders could not deter beggars from their activities even on traffic signals. The City police claimed that they had arrested 699 people accused of fake beggary during this year and had registered 691 cases against them. But, it seems that despite 'crackdown against beggars, their number is rising and it is on peak on the festive occasion of Eid. The beggars are seen wandering in small groups to collect alms at different places including road signals, markets, residential areas and mosques. A police official told this scribe that some time theses beggars come on autorickshaws, and the begging mafias pick and drop them on certain sights. He said they had been paid their wage on daily basis by their ringleaders and in some cases mafias employed them on monthly basis. He said they had divided traffic signals and markets. 'The outsiders (beggars) mostly collect alms and charity by wandering here and there but the permanents and professionals has their specific places, he added. Shakeel, a beggar from Jaranwala told that he did his work at Akbar Chowk, Faisal Town and lived near Lakshmi Chowk. He said he nowadays was earning Rs 1,000 to 1,200 per day but usually he earned Rs 600 to 800 per day. He said he had been offered by a group to join them on monthly salary of Rs 10,000 but he refused as he wanted to do his 'work independently. Rehmat Ali a middle aged told that he had come here from Muridke with his two sons only three days before. He said he had no source of income over there. He said he had come with the hope to collect Fitrana. The beggars had adopted many new tactics by selling pens, newspapers, toes etc while roaming on the signals to grab money from people. They also fleece the commuters by showing fake or stolen medical certificates and medicines. There are also a large number of addicts who could be seen begging at different places including Regal Chowk, Shadman, Muslim Town Morr, Garhi Shahu, Ichhra, Anarkali, Moon Market, Chowk Data Darbar, Chouburji, Baghbanpura, Railway Station and Badami Bagh. The shoppers at different markets complained that beggars forced them for alms by asking again and again. They said it was difficult to find a deserving one as the professionals looked more active to persuade for charity.