Getting a driving license should no doubt be made a tough task as it is about life safety, yet it, at the same time, never means that applicants are subjected to needless trouble. An applicant can either fail or pass the driving test but it never means that he/she is unnecessarily made to wait too long and not guided properly by the concerned. Unlike other districts of J&K UT, getting a driving license in district Baramulla has become a task too convoluted in terms of mismanagement at RTO (Regional Transport Office), Sopore. Right from the time of document submission till the driving test is conducted, the license-seekers have to face an unending ordeal. In fact, I am one of the victims of this apathy.
I obtained my first learner’s license in June, 2017 from ARTO (Assistant Regional Transport Officer), Sopore after qualifying a computer-based-learner’s test. I vividly remember how I was hugged by so many applicants in the premises for passing the test. But who knew that the brief happiness will ahead turn into years of disappointment. Because the road ahead was so full of twists that more than four years have gone by but obtaining it has still remained a far-fetched dream. After some months of seeking the learner’s license, I deposited the fee and sought my date for the driving test. No sooner I got an SMS on my mobile phone for the d-test than I geared up for it. But, how ironical! When the actual date arrived, I was so easily given the next date. And when the next arrived, I was so easily told for the next. Sometimes, I was told to come on Monday and sometimes assured for Saturday. However, the truth is that those Saturdays and Mondays never arrived. As an applicant, I have never ever been properly directed by the staff, what I had to do. From learner’s license to the deposition of fee for the ground test, I, always, had to toil tough. Besides an amount of Rs. 2000/ each time, the irony is that I had to face the impolite behavior of the staff every time. The worry factor was not the amount taken from me. But the valuable time spoiled by the concerned. There are hundreds of unfortunate license-applicants like me whose date for driving-test never arrived. Over the years, the way I have been behaved reminds me Sunny Deol’s Damini movie’s famous dialogue ‘Tarikh Pe Tarikh’ with no justice which calls for the intervention of honorable Deputy Commissioner of Baramulla.
When I applied for learner’s license in 2018 again. I expected things to have become better. But my ill luck, things had gone from bad to worse. I was, luckily, not alone this time but accompanied by a colleague of mine. After paper formalities, when we were called to come in for a computer-based-learner’s test, we obtained our learner’s licenses after having passed the test. Unlike my colleague, I was well aware of the road ahead. I knew exactly the obstacles ahead. However, after reporting at the venue of d-test, a couple of times, when I saw selected and chosen approach adopted. I was fed up.
But then during the last half of 2018, my mind spun to either get license from district Bandipora or to go else where. But what stopped me from going ahead was the huge amount, 12 thousands rupees, that I was asked for by some agents. It always confused me when some license-bearers would tell me that they had acquired their driving-license in just 2-4 thousand rupees. Anyways, when 2018 ended, came 2019. My desirability for the license had now strengthened more than before. I had now learnt the easiest legal technique to achieve it. But how sad! The circumstances didn’t favor. Due to revocation of Article 370 in the valley, the circumstances did not allow anybody to go on with his work freely. As almost the entire year of 2019 went with restrictions and curfews, my struggle for getting a d-license too had somewhat deflated. As fate had it, we had in the same year been hit by one more nuisance called Covid-19 which still is not sparing us.
Finally, when in May 2021, corona virus chaos diminished to some extent, I once again applied for the driving-license. As always, I obtained my learner’s license which had the validity of 6 months, and before the expiry date, I was given the date i.e. 29th of June, for trial by transport office staff. However, this time due to Covid-19 lockdown the task had become more typical due to pending quota of applicants. Only the phenotype (venue) had changed but the genotype (internal-system) at transport office hadn’t improved a bit. Every day at the venue viz. Railway-Station Amargrah, Sopore, a convoy of vehicles would remain ready for the ground-test without any prior information from the concerned. As soon as the trial of some applicants was conducted, the worthy transport Officer would wrap-up the trial programme thereby disappointing hundreds of applicants who would arrive at the spot from far off places of the district. Though for me this was nothing new as I had been witnessing this over the years now. Yet, it is quite troublesome for those who had to face series of difficulties. I fail to understand why applicants are not well in advance informed about their trial, venue and date, if fee is taken from them. My story is not mine alone. It’s of all those worried applicants who reach at the venue from far-flung places and return back without any trial conducted. What made me narrate my story today in this newspaper is my four long years’ wait that never ended. Who will pay me for my precious time that has been spoiled by the concerned at RTO, Sopore? That’s the question.
Manzoor Akash is a teacher by profession at Zone Dangiwacha, Rafiabad