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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Just one checking for vehicles carrying tourists, pilgrims to J&K

Governor’s administration takes serious note of extortion, harassment to drivers and passengers on highway, other routes
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Feb 16: Taking a strong notice of the reports and complaints from different quarters that both, the Traffic as well as the Executive wings of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, were subjecting the non-J&K vehicles carrying tourists and pilgrims to unwarranted checking at around 25 points, Governor’s administration has ordered that such vehicles would be checked nowhere other than the entry point of Lakhanpur.
Highly placed authoritative sources revealed to STATE TIMES that Governor’s Advisor Parvez Dewan last week directed Secretary Transport Kifayat Hussain Rizvi to come up with a policy that would ensure that no tourists, pilgrims or the drivers of such buses would be subjected to extortion or harassment by anybody during their stay and visit in Jammu and Kashmir.
As previously reported by this newspaper, this matter of grave consequences on the tourist flow had been first flagged by a senior official of the Department of Tourism in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s regime. As primarily proposed by the official, Secretary Transport proposed that the vehicles, alongwith their passengers, should be thoroughly checked at the entry point of Lakhanpur. After necessary clearance, authorities would paste a distinguishable sticker on the windscreen of the vehicle and hand over another copy of it to the driver.
Thereafter, no authority or organisation of the Government would be authorised to stop such vehicles for any kind of checking except those specified in traffic rule violations. However, only a gazetted Police officer would be competent to stop such vehicles but it would be mandatory for him to immediately report such an action to the Traffic Police control rooms in Srinagar and Jammu. Government has arranged for printing such stickers within a week.
Government had received complaints that tourists, pilgrims and their vehicle drivers were being subjected to extortion at an average of 25 points beginning with Lakhanpur. It had been pointed out that not a single vehicle of the big transporters, who had been operating fleets of buses and trucks on Jammu-Srinagar-Highway and other routes had been stopped or subjected to such harassment as there had been “special instructions from the top” that nobody would stop buses or trucks of particular transporters anywhere in the State.
Others, as per the complaints, were being stopped with one or the other excuse and let off only after the fleecing.
An official release on Tuesday said: “In a communication issued by the Traffic Police Headquarters, it is informed that the vehicles (private LMVs as well as commercial passenger vehicles) coming from outside the State carrying tourists/pilgrims and entering into the State by road via Lakhanpur shall be stopped for checking of documents only by an officer of the rank of Inspector (DTI) and above.
“The officer after checking the relevant documents shall issue a sticker for the permitted vehicles having a validity  for fifteen days or for single entry/exit, whichever is earlier from the date of checking of documents of the vehicle. These  vehicles having the sticker thereafter shall not be checked at any subsequent traffic check post by any officer except of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above during the validity period of the sticker.
“It has however maintained that for suspicious commission of any of the visible traffic violations pertaining to drunken driving, over speeding, rash driving, (visible) overloading, use of mobile phone while driving, not wearing of seat belt or obstructing free flow of traffic, the vehicle even with the sticker can be stopped at any place by an officer below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police also (Inspector, Sub-Inspector and Assistant Sub-Inspector only) who are authorized to take  action  as warranted under the Law.
“The sticker   given to the driver of the vehicle after checking of documents by the DTI would also contain all relevant instructions printed on it besides telephone numbers of the Traffic Control Rooms .People can register their grievance in this regard on   following phone numbers TCR Jammu: 0191-2459048, TCR NHW Ramban: 9419993745 and  TCR Srinagar: 0194-2450022. They can also send the complaint or any such information through SMS or Whatsapp messages/photographs/videos to the Traffic Headquarter on the mobile No.9622882222".

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