RESTRICTIONS THROW LIFE OUT OF GEAR IN SRINAGAR
Undeclared Curbs Trigger Traffic Terror, Chaos; Administration Caught Napping
SYED IMRAN ALI HAMDANI
Srinagar, Nov 23: While most areas of the summer capital reeled under an undeclared curfew, clamped to foil annual Muharram procession on Friday and also the possible eruption of protests against the Israeli attacks on Gaza, massive traffic jams were witnessed elsewhere, putting people to terrible inconvenience while the district administration was caught napping.
The curbs triggered chaos on the Srinagar roads after police and paramilitary forces who were deployed in strength prevented people from traversing areas under siege, including the City centre Lal Chowk.
In absence of any public notification on restrictions, people woke up to a curfew-like situation. And as the people ventured out of their homes, chaos started to swell while the Traffic police and the civil administration started groping for solutions in futility.
The long unending gridlocks stretching over miles haunted people till late afternoon while many missed their day’s assignments.
SCHOOLCHILDREN LEFT HELPLESS
By 9:00 AM, in south Srinagar, the entire Airport Road stretch from Ram Bagh to Raj Bagh to TRC crossing was in a mess as unending gridlock of vehicles could be seen. The students heading towards schools or coaching classes were worst-hit as many of them could be seen crying as their vehicles remained stranded in areas including the Silk Factory road. For parents whose children had left by school buses, it was more of confusion and anxiety. On coming to know that most part of the City was under siege, they gave up their routine assignments and rushed to look for their children but only to get stranded in the traffic jams midway.
“It is a shame on the part of administration that there was no prior intimation about restrictions. For the past two hours I am unable to know the fate of my daughter because their bus hasn’t reached the school,” shouted father of a student whose daughter studies at Presentation Convent Higher Secondary School at Raj Bagh. He was stuck in jam near Solina. He said he couldn’t leave his vehicle and rush towards the school by foot because “police didn’t either allow him to leave the car abandoned.” Similar was the trouble for college and office-goers.
AIR TRAVELLERS IN TROUBLE
Many flyers, including tourists had a tough time in reaching the airport. One such scene was visible near TRC crossing where a concertina wire siege was laid to prevent people from moving towards the City centre Lal Chowk.
A group of girls were literally seen begging before the police to let them take the MA Road to reach the airport as massive jam had hit the alternative Raj Bagh route. But the cops didn’t buy their pleas. “Please let us go, we’ll miss the flight,” the girls kept pleading but to no avail.
The tourism players were all fire against the government move, saying it brought disrepute for the business. “If authorities were sure that curfew would be in place, there should have been a nodal official who would coordinate with us on movement of tourists to Airport. But it was altogether a messy affair today,” said President Tourism Alliance Nasir Shah adding that some passengers missed flights because of the delay in reaching the airport.
A tour operator said he faced lot of inconvenience in receiving his guests coming from Kolkatta because the vehicle he had arranged for them could not reach the airport in time. “It was very embarrassing for me when the driver informed me that he was prevented from reaching the venue. Then I had to hire another vehicle to bring them,” he said.
A senior official however said 12 Malaysia-bound passengers of Indigo Airlines were about to miss the flight but the airport security staff cooperated to give them the “last minute entry”.
PATIENT CARE AFFECTED
Leave aside doctors, not even ambulances were allowed to proceed towards their designate hospitals while many such vehicles remained stranded in gridlocks.
Near Abdullah Bridge here emotional scenes were witnessed when an ambulance was stuck in the jam. Everyone tried but in futility to give a way out to the cab heading towards LD Hospital. “The government has taken people for granted,” said a Kashmir University teacher, who was stranded for over two hours on way to varsity.
TRAFFIC POLICE SPEAKS
The traffic police blamed the district administration for the mess. “There was no prior intimation about the restrictions otherwise we would have gone for timely diversions,” said a Traffic Police official.
The official admitted that movement of school buses compounded the chaos. “Normally the school buses go off the roads by particularly timings. But due to restrictions, their timings got hindered and it had a cascading affect,” he added.
He however said the men-in-blue tried their best to bring the traffic flow back to normal. “Had we not worked efficiently, it would have been chaotic even in the afternoon,” he added.
Despite repeated attempts the District Development Commissioner Baseer Ahmed Khan could not be contacted for comments.
The ruling National Conference led government has reduced the already “staff starved” traffic cops in the City as around 60 of them have been deployed in Jammu to serve the annual Durbar. The reduction has come at a time when Srinagar, as per observers, needs around 300 more cops on duty as compared strength is around mere 200 presently catering to the City roads.
BAR TAKES UP MATTER WITH CJ
Meanwhile, the High Court Bar Association today took up the matter of undeclared curfew with the Chief Justice of the High Court.
“The Bar Association has taken a very serious note of the fact that on 23.11.2012 undeclared curfew was imposed in the city and the lawyers, litigants and court staff were stopped from entering the city to attend their professional duty. This unwarranted action of the police was brought to the notice of Chief Justice of High Court through Register General and the Secretary of the Bar Association,” a Bar spokesman said. “This shows the high handedness of police as virtually the judicial wing was stopped to function in the whole city.”
Lastupdate on : Fri, 23 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 23 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 24 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST
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