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Deadly JK roads :House Committee report on road accidents gathers dust

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, Sep 19: As the Jammu and Kashmir roads has witnessed a steep increase in the accidents over the past few years, the state government seems to have forgotten what needs to be done to curb the rising menace of road accidents.

According to the official figures, around 6,000 road accidents have been reported annually for the last two years in the state. The actual number according to officials would be much higher as lots of such incidents go unreported.

Sources said that in 2015, 917 people lost their lives in 5,800 road accidents. In 2016, 910 lives were claimed and over 8,000 suffered injuries by road accidents. That means three people die on an average daily in the state.

 

Between 2011 and 2014, 3960 people lost their lives by road accidents and more than 30,000 people were injured in over 20,000 road accidents.

“The number of road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir which claim around one thousand lives per year is double than the national average based on population of the state,” one of the top Traffic police officials told Kashmir News Service.

“Over 60 percent of the total natural deaths had been caused by road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir while the national average is around 30 percent,” he added.

According to the reports, preliminary analysis suggested that the accidents were concentrated around highways which are far removed from many city areas. Experts suggest a host of reasons behind rising accidents. From corruption, to rash-driving to poor road planning and inadequate law enforcement, there are many factors responsible for the rise in accidents.

Sources told KNS that House Committee was constituted to study the kinds of accidents and give recommendations to control it. “The panel had come up with a slew of recommendations to the Transport department, Traffic department, R&B department and other agencies concerned for curbing rising road accidents especaily. Ironically, many years have passed but no recommendation has been implemented by the government to prevent traffic accidents,” sources maintained.

In most of the road accident cases, reportedly only few erring drivers have been brought to justice. And majority of these cases, particularly involving accidents on the highways, are closed as ‘not traced’.

Sources said that instead of taking concrete steps to minimize road accidents, the transport department typically compiles figures for the calendar year and then boasts about the less number of deaths every year.. “We’ve been led to believe that things in the last several years were getting much better. But the irony is that even if only ten people are killed annually in the road accidents, it should also be a concern for the government,” says Mohmmad Yousf of Dadsun Kishtwar, who lost his relative in a deadly accident at Kishtwar in last week .

According to the insiders in the transport department, providing the licenses after spending some money was one of the biggest factors behind the reckless driving as licenses were issued even to minors and untrained drivers who get it without the mandatory driving tests.

Sources further told KNS that government of India had initiated a plan to set up a high-tech driving institute in Kashmir region to provide sophisticated training to the drivers, but the plan was shunned as the GoI required 70 kanals of land for the project which couldn’t materialize as most of the state land has been sold through Roshni Scheme.

Sources said that other than the highways (made by the central government), the state government has not done any major improvement on constructing two-lane roads, the result of which is that in the rural areas most of the accidents occur due to the vehicles plying on wrongs sides, or due to overtaking.

Sources said that Jammu and Kashmir also topped the list of “high accidental death-prone areas” in a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) survey conducted in 2013, which found that an accident in Jammu And Kashmir State has a 64 percent chance of causing death as opposed to 36.4 percent for all of India.

This is a public health emergency that requires immediate action. As a state, we are slowly waking up to the fact that we lead in road crash deaths and injuries. Unfortunately, we are at a primitive stage of resolving this issue. We are still trying to understand that every road death is preventable, and that there are solutions which have been tried, tested and found to be successful in outside countries. To defeat this growing menace of road traffic accidents, there is an immediate need to take some determined action today, suggest one of the social activists.

 


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Omar hopes centre, EC would soon hold Assembly polls in J&K

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Srinagar, Apr 18: National Conference Vice President and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday hoped that the Center and Election Commission (EC) will hold Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir soon after the completion of the Lok Sabha polls.

“I only hope that having seen the environment in which we were able to conduct both the campaign for north Kashmir and also central Kashmir and hopefully south Kashmir as well that the government of India gets off its high horse and gives the people of Jammu and Kashmir the opportunity to choose an elected government sooner rather than later because they are now running out of excuses to delay assembly elections,” Omar told reporters after casting his vote at Sonwar, here.

He said Assembly elections in the state were delayed because of parliament. “Now the parliament elections are due to conclude. We can only hope that the centre together with the EC gives the people of Jammu and Kashmir an elected government which is their right,” the former CM said.

 

He termed the ongoing LS polls significantly different from the by-elections of 2017 that NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah won. “In that election we barely managed one or two public meetings outdoors. All our election activity was confined to closed rooms and walled off areas. In this election thankfully we found the electorate for more receptive,” Omar said.

“I don’t know what that will mean for turnouts but at least in terms of the atmosphere for campaigning and the receptiveness of the people to the message that we were taking out to them it is a far more receptive electorate today than it was in 2017,” he added.

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Used as ‘human shield’ in 2017, Farooq Dar now on poll duty

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Utligam, Apr 18 :Nearly two years ago, when Srinagar voted in a Lok Sabha bypoll, Farooq Ahmed Dar was used as a ‘human shield’ to ensure safe passage for army jawans as they came under intense stone-pelting, but now he finds himself posted on election duty.
“Farooq Ahmad Dar is working on consolidated terms as sweeper in the Health Department. He has been posted on election duty,” said Budgam Chief Medical Officer Nazir Ahmad.
In 2017, a picture of Dar tied to the bonnet of an army jeep splashed across the front pages of newspaper, invoking sharp but divided reactions.
Investigations later found he was on his way to his sister’s place for a condolence meet after casting his vote in the bypoll on April 9 2017 when the army picked him up and tied him with ropes, parading him through nearly 28 villages.
“What was my mistake? Going to the polling booth and casting my ballot?” Dar had told PTI in a video interview last year.
At this village, nearly 40 kms from the Srinagar city, where Dar was tied to the army jeep, the incident is still fresh in the minds of the locals.
After the polls opened at the Utligam polling station, only two of the registered 1,016 voters had cast the ballots in the first 100 minutes.
The residents allege the stone-pelting was in response to the “unprovoked harassment” of the locals by the army officer and the “vandalism” by the troops.
“It was the army personnel who went berserk and started beating up people and broke window panes of many houses that day. The youngsters were infuriated and retaliated by pelting them with stones,” Nazir Ahmad, a local resident, told PTI.
Ahmad admits the stone-pelting was very intense, which probably forced Major Leetul Gogoi to catch hold of Dar and use him as a human shield.
“He is not even from our village. He is from Cheill-Brass village, 15 kilometres from here. That incident has brought only unwanted attention from all sides to our village. If we vote, it is a problem and if we do not vote, it is a problem,” he said.
Mohammad Aslam, another villager, said the police picked up 22 youths from the village over the past couple of days without any charge.
“Most of them are labourers and students. We are least bothered about if any one comes to vote or not. We have formed a committee to ensure there is law and order problem in our village this time because we are concerned about our boys,” he said.
There is a sense of deja vu among some residents here.
A young woman died Thursday morning due to brain hemorrhage. Preparations were underway for her final rites at the graveyard right next to the polling station.
“You would not have been able to come here had it not been for the death of the woman this morning. The scenes here would have been different,” said a youth, who wished not to be named, indicating that disturbance in the area was planned.
As this PTI reporter travelled to Cheill-Brass, a remote village just at the foot of the mighty mountain, Dar was not at his home.
“He has gone for election duty,” his mother Fazi Begum told PTI.
She said Dar was appointed as a daily wage employee in the state Health Department and has been on election duty since Wednesday.
Asked if the eligible members of her family had cast their votes, Fazi Begum said, “I almost lost my son due to voting two years ago. Do you think we will go to vote again?”
The 65-year-old woman said her son had to seek daily wage employment in the government department as he could not work on shawls anymore.
“His thumb has been damaged after he was tied to the jeep by army people. Now he cannot work on shawls,” she said.
The State Human Rights Commission had awarded Rs 10 lakh compensation to Dar but the state government refused to pay up.
“We have not got any help from the Government. (Then chief minister) Mehbooba Mufti did not honour the ruling of the SHRC,” Fazi Begum said.
She has now pinned hopes on the court where the case is under consideration.

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PDP’s sellout responsible for losses in valley: Mir

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Srinagar, Apr 18: Leading a mega road show in Devsar area in District Kulgam today, the J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President and party candidate G.A. Mir said it was highly inevitable to defeat PDP in the ensuing parliamentary elections for their acts of betrayal attempts of playing with the emotions of people for the sake of power.
Mir also said that south Kashmir has suffered immensely on all fronts due to the sellout by PDP, emphasizing people not to believe PDP again and defeat it’s falsehood and treachery.
Pradesh Congress Committee organized a mega road show in Devsar area of Kulgam District which passed through several areas, the road show was led by G A Mir who made a passionate appeal to masses to give him a chance to serve people of south Kashmir, as that, the South Kashmir has experienced worst due to the complete sell out by PDP for the sake of power.
Mir was accompanied by PCC Vice President Haji Abdul Rashid Dar, Mohd Amin Bhat, Bashir Ahmad Magrey, Surinder Singh Channni, Vinod Koul, Farooq Ahmad Bhat, Ab. Rashid Lone and various other party leaders.
Addressing people at various places during road show, Mir told the people that it is essential to defeat the politics of opportunism and exploitation on the part of PDP, as this opportunist Party is fully responsible for the loss of innocent lives, bloodshed, damages caused to peace and development in the State. PDP cannot escape the responsibility of loss of innocent people in South Kashmir. There was anger among the people due to the betrayal by PDP leading to the loss of innocent people Mir said.
“People of south Kashmir gave majority of seats to PDP from south Kashmir during 2014 elections with the firm belief that this party would ensure protection to special status of the state besides ensuring dignity, security and development of people as was promised by them, but the mandate given has not gone well with this opportunist Party, their tall claims and slogans proved hoax, which were based on falsehood and political exploitation,” G.A. Mir said.
He told the people BJP will face the defeat miserably because people of the country have decided to vote against the saffron party for deceiving them on development and employment front, besides failing them on all fronts after securing votes resulting in there was complete chaos and restlessness among the people.
“Your vote would elect a new Prime Minister of the country, I appeal you to come out and cast your vote in favour of the Congress party in larger numbers, for the fact Congress stands guarantee to dignity and security of the people, besides protection to Article 370 and Article 35A of the constitution of India, you need to understand that BJP has declared in its poll manifesto that it would scrap Article 370 after coming back to power, so it would be your and our responsibility to defeat the designs of BJP, RSS, jointly,” G.A. Mir told the people.
“It is our ultimate goal to ensure overall development of the State, employment to educated unemployed youth, besides safety and security to people,” G.A. Mir added and said Congress is capable enough to deal with forces inimical to atmosphere of unity, harmony and peace, he cautioned the people about the political gimmicks on the part of PDP BJP, who can go to an extent to woo the voters again by playing emotional cards like they have done in past, he said.
Among other who participated in road show included Block Presidents of Kulgam, PCC, DCC members Youth President, Youth Leaders and other prominent workers of Devsar.

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