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

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

Nisar Dharma
Srinagar: A man required an approval from a magistrateto simply cross the road in Sangam, a settlement in south Kashmir’s Anantnagdistrict, on Wednesday, the second day of the two-day-a-week ban authoritieslast 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 onsocial media drawing huge criticism and ridicule.
A Naib Tehsildar, who was one among the 25 officers designatedby the district administration last week to regulate traffic on severalcrossings on the highway during the banned days, told The Kashmir Monitor thathe 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 permissionto 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 usetheir highway. Their hands are being stamped & written on. I don’t knowwhat to say! Should we be flippant & mock the attempt at saving paper? I’mjust 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 packof cigarettes and there is a time when Highway pass is issued in thisway….#KashmirTragedy. Hope the stamp is not washed away before reaching thedestination,” read a post by one Facebook user.
“A civilian granted permission to drive from home to office onthe Kashmir highway. The highway magistrate stamp is only valid till next handwash! It reminds me of a movie from Hitler’s era,” tweeted journalist PeerzadaAshiq.
The viral photograph was also picked by Conde Nast Traveller, aninternational travel magazine, which posted on their website and wrote aboutthe recent Highway ban in Kashmir.
“Anyone who wants to get on the Jammu-Srinagar highway on Sundayor Wednesday now needs a permission from the administration. And if that pieceof official paper isn’t available, they may have to bear the proof of access ontheir body,” read the opening paragraph of the article by Conde Nast.
Last week, the J&K government notified two dedicated days ina week (Sundays and Wednesdays) exclusively for movement of government forces’convoys on the highway while ordering a complete ban on civilian traffic duringthe days on the Highway. The order will remain in force till May 31.

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