The cab drivers here Sunday held a protest demonstration against the decision of the district administration to shut down a taxi stand in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
The stand located in Khanabal locality of the town was locked last evening by the officials.
The administration maintains that the move was taken in public interest and that the cab drivers were being provided alternate location.
However, the cab drivers said it was their source of livelihood and that they had been paying rent to the Roads and Buildings (R&B) department since 1979.
Holding placards, ‘We want justice’, the cab drivers protested against the move.
The president of the cab drivers operating from this stand, Nazir Ahmad said that the administration wants us to vacate this land and use it to extend their own set up, but this would deny livelihood to 200 families.
He said that they had not been provided any suitable alternate location yet.
Another driver said that the place where the administration was contemplating to relocate them was not ideal one and would not have a footfall of the passengers.
“Since decades, the Jammu-bound passengers have been boarding taxis and cabs from here only,” he said.
The shopkeepers around also expressed their dismay saying the move would affect their business at a time when there is an “economic crisis”.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Additional District Commissioner (ADC) Sheikh Ghulam Hassan said the move to relocate the stand was taken in the public interest.
“It was a bottleneck and hampered the movement of traffic and pedestrians. We have plans to relocate several other stands to streamline the traffic in the town,” he said.
Hassan said that the cab drivers were being provided an alternate place in the nearby Batengoo area.
“The land was allotted to the cab drivers on a temporary basis,” he said.
Hassan said that the administration was adhering to the directions of the High Court.
“The beautification of the vacated taxi stand will be carried and it would be developed,” he said.
In 2019, the administration issued eviction notice to the cab drivers.
However, the drivers filed a petition in the HC that they be allowed to run the stand and provide service to the passengers.
The HC stayed the order following which the district administration filed its response.
It had cited the law and order measures on the Amarnath route as one of the reasons for relocation.
In the fresh order, the HC, keeping in view the interests of both the parties, asked the district administration to ensure that the relocation does not suffer their business.
“The respondents (administration) should consider the registration of the stand in tune with the mandate of the law, rules, and policy of the government. However, doing so, it should ensure the petitioners association (cab drivers) at an identified place as per their stand taken in the affidavit,” the order reads.
It said that the respondents should also ensure relocation does not suffer the business and allow plying of the vehicles from the stand identified by the respondents.