Passport Office Sgr non-operational
Adding to woes of the people in Kashmir valley which is in the grip of unrest, the Regional Passport Office (RPO) Srinagar is virtually shut here over the past three weeks with the concerned authorities directing applicants from Kashmir to rush to Jammu to process their cases.
This is a sort of embarrassment for the Centre and State Governments which are making claims that situation is improving in Kashmir Valley, as the office is non-operational following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by forces in south Kashmir's Anantnag district on July 8.
A public notice issued by RPO Srinagar reads: "Passport Seva Kendra Srinagar is non-operational w.e.f July 11, 2016 due to curfew imposed in the city. Applicants under the jurisdiction of PSK Srinagar are advised to visit PSK Jammu on any working day from 10 AM to 2 PM for their application processing in case of emergency."
The decision to make RPO Srinagar dysfunctional has triggered widespread resentment in Kashmir,with people terming it as a grave injustice with the Valley. "The Government should have provided these facilities on our doorsteps in such a situation. But it is irony that they are asking us to travel 300 kilometres for availing the service," said Nazir Ahmad, a resident of Baramulla.
An official at Regional Passport Officer Srinagar admitted that new passport cases are not being processed here due to prevailing situation in Kashmir. "We are not able to work here due to restrictions, uncertainty about availability of staff and non-availability of the mandatory internet facilities," he said. He, however, said the cases which have been already processed are being disposed of here.
To a question on asking the applicants from Kashmir valley to rush to Jammu, he said a counter has been opened at RPO Jammu to cater to the cases of urgent nature from the valley.
"The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has approved for opening of the counter at RPO Jammu," the official said.
When contacted, Government spokesman and Education Minister Naeem Akther said he will look into the issue.
Since July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by forces in south Kashmir's Anantnag (Islamabad) district, Kashmir Valley is witnessing massive protests . As many as 52 civilians have been killed while over 4000 have been wounded in action by government forces on protesters in different parts of Kashmir valley during the past 25 days.