Buskers, Beggars and Street Kids Off Jakarta’s Streets for Ramadan

The Jakarta Globe

Jakarta government officials are cracking down on beggars, buskers and street kids in what it says is an effort to rid the capital of “social welfare problems” during Ramadan.

On Wednesday, about 10 days ahead of the expected start of the holy month, Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) head Effendi Anas said his staff started an operation targeting the fringe groups, which it has labelled PMKS.

During the fasting month there is often an increase in their number on the capital’s streets as the generosity promoted by Ramadan attracts many from impoverish rural areas.

“This operation is aimed at providing comfort and safety to Muslims who are fasting during Ramadan,” Effendi said. “And also to keep PMKS from bothering people in public.”

The operation will involve 300 public order officers and will last until July 30, just before Ramadan starts. It will target the Gambir, Tanah Abang, Kebayoran Lama and Cilandak areas.

Another round of operations would be carried out from Aug. 16 to 28, toward the end of the fasting month and just before Idul Fitri. “During the first round, a persuasive approach will be used and they’ll be sent home,” Effendi said. “But the second time around, we will arrest them and send them to social welfare homes. They won’t be able to go home to celebrate Lebaran with their families.”

This, he said, has proven to be effective. “They really want to celebrate Lebaran with their families,” he said, adding that they would be released two days after the occasion.

Last year, the Jakarta administration arrested 2,500 PMKS during Ramadan, a 50 percent drop from the figure in 2009. “Hopefully, the number will fall even more this year,” he said.

So far, 123 PMKS were accosted after the first day of the operations, 26 of which did not have Jakarta residence cards.

Kian Kelana, the head of Jakarta’s Social Affairs Office, said the government has prepared three social welfare homes for PMKS in Kedoya, Ceger and Cengkareng.

Ahead of the holy month, expected to start on Aug. 1, police said there would be no raids by hard-line organizations, which have occurred in past years.

Officials have likewise assured the public that the government had enough essential goods to meet the high seasonal demand.

To accommodate an estimated 2.5 million passengers traveling to and from their hometowns at the end of the month, state railway operator Kereta Api Indonesia announced that an additional 26 trains will be operating during the peak travel period beginning Aug. 25 and run for 18 days.

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