Want to cross the highway, look for a magistrate first!
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
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.