Srinagar, Apr 10: A man required an approval from a magistrate to simply cross the road in Sangam, a settlement in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, on Wednesday, the second day of the two-day-a-week ban authorities last week imposed on civilian movement on Srinagar-Jammu highway.
The photo of the civilian’s right-hand palm carrying the stamp, signature and Wednesday’s date with a note ‘Allow to Sangam’ soon went viral on social media drawing huge criticism and ridicule.
A Naib Tehsildar, who was one among the 25 officers designated by the district administration last week to regulate traffic on several crossings on the highway during the banned days, told The Kashmir Monitor that he had to stamp the man on his hand since he (officer) had “run out of passes.”
The man, the officer said, was a local and needed the permission to cross the highway.
The viral photograph gathered a lot of social media attention.
“This is how permission is granted to people in J&K to use their highway. Their hands are being stamped & written on. I don’t know what to say! Should we be flippant & mock the attempt at saving paper? I’m just angry at the degrading, inhuman treatment being meted out to people,” tweeted Former J&K Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah.
“There was a time when employment orders were issued on a pack of cigarettes and there is a time when Highway pass is issued in this way….#KashmirTragedy. Hope the stamp is not washed away before reaching the destination,” read a post by one Facebook user.
“A civilian granted permission to drive from home to office on the Kashmir highway. The highway magistrate stamp is only valid till next hand wash! It reminds me of a movie from Hitler’s era,” tweeted journalist Peerzada Ashiq.
The viral photograph was also picked by Conde Nast Traveller, an international travel magazine, which posted on their website and wrote about the recent Highway ban in Kashmir.
“Anyone who wants to get on the Jammu-Srinagar highway on Sunday or Wednesday now needs a permission from the administration. And if that piece of official paper isn’t available, they may have to bear the proof of access on their body,” read the opening paragraph of the article by Conde Nast.
Last week, the J&K government notified two dedicated days in a week (Sundays and Wednesdays) exclusively for movement of government forces’ convoys on the highway while ordering a complete ban on civilian traffic during the days on the Highway. The order will remain in force till May 31.