Akeel Rashid

As the restrictions on NH continue, lack of coordination between agencies troubles more

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Srinagar, Apr 16: While the restrictions on the movement of civilian traffic on the national highway two days a week continue to trouble masses, another worrying reality is the lack of coordination between civil administration and those executing orders on the ground.

On April 05, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan said that ambulances, school buses and other transport of essential services will be exempted from the highway restrictions.

On April 10, security forces in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district didn’t allow an ambulance to ply. The ambulance was reportedly carrying a patient, suffering from cancer.

The incident came to light after a video of the ambulance surfaced on the social media. In this 1 minute and 41 seconds video, a man is heard informing the forces that there is a patient in the ambulance who is on oxygen support but a CRPF man standing guard on the highway is seen signaling the driver to pull over.

Two days after the incident, it was reported by a local daily that the said patient has passed away in Doda.  As the news of his death became public, people took to social media to express their resentment against the move to restrict traffic on the arterial national highway.

Following this, the CRPF on April 16 ordered a “high-level inquiry”, in the death of the patient. In a statement, the CRPF said: “We are deeply anguished at the sad demise of Abdul Qayoom Banday of Doda,” and that “a high-level enquiry has been ordered into the incident.”

This incident points to a valid question: why were the orders of Divisional Commissioner not obeyed and followed?

Though the order with regard to highway restrictions has been issued by the civil administration, it is the police, paramilitary forces and the army who are enforcing these orders on the national highway.

Obviously many people are of the opinion that the deployment of magistrates at various intersections on the highway has failed to make any difference.

Moreover, the alleged roughing up of a Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Duroo (Anantnag) by the Army has once again challenged the role of civil administration which has been tasked to ensure that the provisions of the Divisional commissioner’s order are implemented on the ground.

“Forces are trained for enforcement purposes but it is the officials of civil administration who should know the art of negotiation even during the most hostile situations. The alleged manhandling of a bureaucrat in south Kashmir has subordinated the role of administrators to regulate the traffic movement on the highway and above all the incident has validated the popular skepticism with regard to the assigned roles of administrators,” said Mudasir Ahmad, a student of Public Administration.

There have been instances where the magistrates feigned helplessness in presence of forces when they were approached for travel permission by the civilians.

“The deployment of magistrates on the highway is making no real difference at all. Lack of liaison between civil officers and security forces is the real issue and this communication gap is leading to a situation where the public doesn’t know whom to approach for travel permission during an emergency,” said a person who didn’t identify himself even though he claimed that he too was disallowed to travel on the highway during a medical emergency.

‘Kashmir Images’ made repeated attempts to get comments from the officers in civil administration but no one was ready to talk over the issue.

When contacted Srinagar based PRO defense, Col Rajesh Kalia denied that there was any lack of coordination.

“Ambulances and buses ferrying students will be given priority so that there is no inconvenience to patients and students,” he said.


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