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Srinagar-Jammu highway: Stranded passengers suffer as hotel, restaurant owners resort to overpricing

Hirra Azmat





Srinagar, Jan 12: In view of the recent snowfalls and frequent closure of the Srinagar-Jammu Highway, the shopkeepers on the stretch have resorted to undue profiteering by demanding exorbitant prices from the stranded passengers.

Since mid-December, the over 300-kilometre highway connecting Kashmir with rest of the world, has remained on and off, leaving hundreds of passengers stuck on the road.

On Friday evening and for most part of Saturday, the traffic on the highway was halted due to heavy snowfall in Banihal sector, leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded.


Adding further to the miseries of the already peeved travellers, the shopkeepers, and hotel and restaurant owners, on the highway, charged exorbitant prices for their services and food items they sell.

Bashir Ahmad, who runs a shop in Jammu, was returning to Srinagar a few days ago when he was left stranded near Banihal for two days due to the snowfall.“We were forced to pay Rs 160 for a plate of rice and lentils,” Bashir said.

The Dhabawallas and hoteliers, he added, fleece the customers by selling overpriced food items whenever the highway is closed.
On an average daily, 4,000 to 5,000 vehicles ply on the national highway.

Imran Bhat, a cab driver from Srinagar, said the shopkeepers were dictating their own prices, leaving the stranded passengers embarrassed.“Five passengers and I were stranded on the highway near Ramban market last week. We were reluctant to eat our meals as the restaurant owner demanded Rs 200 for a plate of rice with rajma,”
“For a cup of tea and a slice of bread, we were forced to pay Rs 50,” he said adding:

“There is open loot whenever the highway is closed for traffic.”

“For a room with a single bed, they charge Rs 2500-3000. The stranded passengers have no other option than paying the money,” he said.
Fayaz Ahmad, another cab driver from Budgam, said the authorities have failed to keep a check on such malpractices.

“If somebody refuses to pay the extra charge, they (Dhabawallas, restaurant owners, hoteliers) not only refuse to sell the food item but indulge in abusive language,” he said.
“Government keeps no facilities available and the shopkeepers are rampantly looting the travellers,” Fayaz added.

He said he had to pay Rs 1,600 to share a small shabby room with other stranded passengers.

District Development Commissioner, Ramban, Showkat Aijaz said the government “won’t allow” fleecing of passengers.
“If anybody has any complaint, they can contact to our officials and we will take action,” he said.



Crackdown launched on illegal selling of tobacco products in Srinagar

Crackdown launched on illegal selling of tobacco products in Srinagar




Srinagar, Jun 25: The Srinagar administration Tuesday launched a city-wide crackdown on illegal sale of cigarettes among other tobacco products holding simultaneous inspections of markets in various areas.

The inspections were held in the wake of growing concerns about increasing prevalence of substance abuse in Srinagar and to verify adherence to the Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act or COTPA 2003 which prohibits advertisement of and provides for regulation of trade and commerce in production and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Large number of stores and vendors situated at different places were found selling cigarettes without the mandatory pictorial warnings on packets thereof. Huge cache of such cigarettes was also seized from various markets during the inspections.


Some 50 stores and vendors including those found selling cigarettes among other tobacco products close to schools among other educational institutions in violations of COTPA and violating other provisions thereof were booked with several of them sealed during the inspections.

It is notable that the data suggests that the annual amount spent on tobacco consumption in Srinagar is a staggering Rs 131 crore which is the highest in the State. This among other forms of substance abuse involving both genders is growing into a serious cause of concern in the district.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary who has issued strict instructions to concerned officers to crackdown on violators and offenders said violations of COTPA account for serious offences and will be dealt with in the context of public safety.

Dr Shahid assured of sustained efforts to check substance abuse in Srinagar but also urged the general public and parents in particular to do their bit emphasizing their important role therein and to assist the administration in its efforts to curb prevalence thereof.

Last month a district level coordination committee comprising 15 members from different departments and organisations was constituted in the district for the implementation of COTPA.

Different members of the committee have been assigned different roles and responsibilities for ensuring effective and functional application of tobacco control in the district.

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Amit Shah should start process of dialogue with all stakeholders: Sagar




Srinagar, Jun 25: Ahead of the visit of union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, National Conference has hoped that the central government will begin dialogue on Kashmir to restore peace in the state.

National Conference General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar said that Kashmir valley is going through bloodshed, tension and arrests of youth on daily basis which further deteriorate the situation.

“Home ministers visit Kashmir, but this time we hope the visiting home minister will start process of dialogue with all stakeholders here which will help improve the situation,” he said.


He said that the daily pensive situation, ongoing bloodshed, and arrests of youth will stop only through initiatives of peace through dialogue.

“We hope the visit of home minister should make difference in Kashmir situation. If the home minister starts any dialogue process to which will improve situation here, we welcome it,” he said.

Expressing the displeasure with the Reservation Bill brought up the home minister, Sage said that NC is against the procedure which was adopted by the central government.

“The procedure adopted by the centre government to bring the bill violation of article 370. We are not against reservation for any particular section of people. We are against the procedure adopted by the government,” he said.

He said that Member Parliament of National Conference Dr Farooq Abdullah will take a stand over the bill in the ongoing session of Parliament.

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Amit Shah should inaugurate a new era of engagement in Kashmir: Faesal




Srinagar, Jun 25: President J&K Peoples Movement Shah Faesal has said that on his maiden visit to Kashmir as Home Minister, Amit Shah should inaugurate a new age of engagement and reach out to people of the State.

In a statement issued, Shah Faesal said that Central Government led by PM Narendra Modi has an extraordinary opportunity to take bold decisions on Kashmir and bring peace to Valley while taking all stakeholders on board.

He argued for initiation of dialogue process, resumption of Cross LoC trade, freeing of political prisoners who are in jails for minor offenses, among other political initiatives needed at this hour.


Shah Faesal also called for immediate implementation of Universal Basic Income scheme for BPL households of the State, age relaxation of UPSC/JEE IIT aspirants from J&K State, improvement of inter-provincial road connectivity and four-laning if Srinagar-Salamabad, Srinagar-Teetwal roads.

JKPM President expressed hope that the Home Minister would facilitate creation of an environment of peace in which developmental activity and will pick up and Tourism potential of the State will be harnessed.

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