Ban on entry of taxis into Batamaloo puts automobile workshop owners out of work

With the Traffic Police cracking down on the cab drivers lately, the workshop owners and spare part dealers at the Batamaloo yard told Greater Kashmir that they have been left without work as even vehicles seeking repairs are denied entry into the yard.
Ban on entry of taxis into Batamaloo puts automobile workshop owners out of work
“We will jump in a river or put ourselves on fire if the administration doesn’t sort this out as soon as possible,” threatens Haji Bashir.GK Photo

Srinagar, June 8: Five years after the J&K High Court directed the Traffic Police to ban entry of passenger cars into the city, the automobile workshop owners and spare parts dealers at the erstwhile Batamaloo Bus Stand say they have become "collateral damage" of the move, as they have been nearly left out of work.

The J&K High Court in 2017 while hearing a plea seeking smooth traffic flow in Srinagar had directed Traffic Police City Srinagar not to allow the passenger cars coming from the peripheries of the valley into the city to decongest traffic.

With the Traffic Police cracking down on the cab drivers lately, the workshop owners and spare part dealers at the Batamaloo yard told Greater Kashmir that they have been left without work as even vehicles seeking repairs are denied entry into the yard.

"Before the ban, we used to be over busy and work till midnight at times, but only a truck comes for repair work occasionally now," Haji Bashir, a mechanic working in the yard since 1970, told Greater Kashmir.

Established in 1965, the yard adjacent to the general bus stand Batamaloo has been a hub of automobile workshops. However, since the ban on cabs, 90% of the business has been affected, the shop owners say.

Bashir said that their business suffered the 'first blow' when a road connecting the city was constructed through the yard. "The second blow came when the administration banned trucks into the area and now, they have completely threatened our livelihood by disallowing the entry of cabs,” Bashir says.

The mechanics claim that the Traffic Police Department, on the pretext of traffic regulation, has imposed a total ban on the cab owners and is not allowing them to even repair their vehicles at the Batamaloo yard, a claim echoed by the cab drivers too.

Drivers whose cabs need emergency repairs say their vehicle documents are confiscated by the traffic police before they allow them towards the yard from the bypass side.

“Many times, they penalise us a hefty amount just to let us through. We have the J&K state permit which means we can move anywhere in the region then why are we being penalised and nettled for moving on a particular road?” asks Irfan Ahmad, a driver from Ganderbal.

As per the Fayaz Ahmad, a 65-yr-old mechanic, some drivers needing repair of their vehicles are forced to sneak in and leave during night time. "Which trucker would want to waste 24 hours just to get his vehicle repaired?” asks Ahmad as he gets busy with repairing a truck he said had come during night hours.

Mohammad Aslam, a welder, says they have been living hand to mouth since the ban. “Whatever I earn goes to feed my family. No savings. I can't buy a toy for my children,” lamented Aslam. “At times, weeks pass when we don't earn a single penny, and in the prevailing times when prices have skyrocketed, it is really difficult to save ourselves and our families from starvation,” he adds.

“We will jump in a river or put ourselves on fire if the administration doesn’t sort this out as soon as possible,” threatens Haji Bashir.

As per Jaan Mohammad, the vehicle ban had not only hit the workshop owners but also those running eateries and tea stalls in the vicinity. “There are hardly any customers since the ban was imposed on cabs to enter the yard,” says Riyaz Ahmad, who runs a tea stall at the yard.

President of Shopkeepers Traders Association, Ishfaq Ahmad who runs a tyre shop says they had several meetings with law enforcement authorities "who said they were imposing the ban on the direction of the High court".

Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Srinagar, SSP Muzzaffar Shah too says that they were "enforcing the orders of the J&K High Court". The SSP Traffic however added that the cab drivers were being allowed to get their vehicles repaired.

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