The police crackdown on vehicles bought outside the union territory has triggered chaos in Kashmir with the car parlours claiming that the sudden move has grounded their businesses.
Hundreds of vehicles bearing non-J&K registration numbers have been seized by the police in a massive crackdown across Kashmir, triggering chaos among the owners of these vehicles and car dealers who buy vehicles at comparatively cheaper prices outside and then sell them here.
The car parlours in Karan Nagar area of Srinagar – the main hub of second-hand cars – are wearing a desolate look with dust starting to gather on the vehicles hitherto shining to attract buyers.
"We are in a dilemma. Take a look at our vehicles. They are gathering dust," said a dealer. "In a moment, the government has grounded our businesses."
The crackdown and mass seizure of such vehicles by the police began immediately after the Regional Transport Office (RTO) Kashmir asked non-J&K registered vehicle owners to get their vehicles registered with concerned RTOs within fifteen days.
The dealers demand that they should get ample time and a reprieve in paying taxes to register the vehicles in J&K. "We register and pay the taxes while purchasing the vehicles from Delhi, now if they want us to register our vehicles again, they must exempt the heavy amount of taxes that are being charged," said Nasir Hassan, who owns a shop at Karan Nagar.
The dealers say that hundreds of vehicles which they had bought outside have been reduced to a piece of iron and plastic, as no one is willing to purchase them now.
Basit Ahmad, who owns a parlour, said the people are beginning to have negative views about them as the crackdown has portrayed their business as one involving fraud.
While pointing to the vehicles eaten away by dust in the premises of his garage, Ahmad said that the only reason people bought these vehicles was their reasonable price. "The price will automatically increase as we would need to pay 9% road tax twice on a particular vehicle," he said.
He said every dealer has his stock of 10-20 cars piled up now. "We are ourselves afraid to travel in our personal cars which bear non-JK registrations. We have apprehensions that our cars will be seized the moment we take them on the roads," said Ahmad.
The owners of non-JK vehicles believe that even if the government move was justified, the way it was being implemented made it look "scary and vengeful". They have asked us to get our vehicles registered within fifteen days and keeping in-view their incompetence, it would take more than a month to get just one vehicle registered," he claimed.
Irfan Ahmad, who frequently travels between Kashmir and Delhi, said he had purchased a Delhi registered car because J&K registered vehicles are subjected to more frisking in Delhi. "The latest order has put me in a dilemma. I know government orders like these aren't revoked but authorities must give a relaxation in registration charges and increase the time period," he said.
Adding more to the chaos, the IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar also linked the police crackdown on non-J&K registered vehicles with militant attacks and transportation of contraband.
The government move has been criticized by the political parties like the PDP and Apni Party who said the arbitrary induction of such laws was adding more monetary burdens on the people currently bearing the brunt of an economic recession.