SRINAGAR: As the cry for tehsil status from the left out areas is getting louder, the protests are turning to be boon for the transporters who ferry the protestors from across the Valley to the city centre here.
In Press Enclave, that is the main venue for holding these protests, demonstrators from different villages from north to south of Kashmir arrive here in vehicles mostly in Sumo taxis or mini buses hired for delivering them at the protest venue.
With jubilations in several areas being witnessed after the announcement of formation of 659 new administrative units in the state of Jammu and Kashmir was announced Saturday, many were annoyed for government’s decision for leaving out their areas claiming they deserve tehsil. The announcement prompted many to come on streets and many say that Srinagar’s Press Enclave, is the best place to protest as being a media hub their voice can be lent an ear. Since the announcement six to eight protests take place every day with each protest compromising a hundred odd souls.
In the midst of the din the transporters have something to cheer about because in the ‘dull’ season of winter their fortunes, somehow, changed overnight.
“From past four days we get advance bookings to bring people here (Srinagar). Our president calls us on phone and tells us to go any particular place to ferry these protestors. We have never been so busy in winters before,” Mohammad Amin, a Sumo taxi driver who had parked his vehicle near the Pratap Park on Red Cross Road side told Kashmir Reader.
The vehicles in which people from the villages and left out areas arrive could be seen making beelines in the Partap Park on busy MA and Residency roads.
This is Amin’s third chance of ferrying protesting villagers to the city centre and Nihama, a village in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district, is latest one in his list.
Amin was more cheerful as it appears from his words, because it has added to his earnings, than his routine one. As the rates set for these taxis varies as per the distance up to Srinagar and it can go to Rs 3000.
Amin is less bothered about the tehsil up gradation or omission of tehsil debate and is more concerned about his fortunes which are better this time because of villagers who want to protest in here.
“I don’t care whether they deserve it (Tehsil) or not. What matters me is the fare I charge from them which is decided in the stand,” Amin said.
For Amin, full bookings for whole day is bonus as they don’t have to shout to call passengers to board their taxi and it also, saves time and money and is less cumbersome as compared to daily routine.
“I can say this is blessing in disguise. Their protests make me merry. See I am resting in my taxi and look at them they are tearing their throats to get something which is not of my interest,” he said.
Even though Amin has more interested in his work and money, driver like Ghulam Hassan sees it their duty to bring his village’s people here so that their voice could be heard.
“It’s not about charging or getting my money to ferry people here. I am one among them they protest also for me. If tomorrow our village gets tehsil status it will benefit me also,” Hassan says, who has accompanied his villagers in the protests to demand for the Tehsil status for Nihama village.
However, Hassan says Rs 2200 has been charged for full bookings and if their Sumo Taxi president decides not to charge anything they will act upon his call.
“Normally we charge Rs 2200 for full booking for a day and it is also up to the stand president who will take the final call as it is also the matter of our own village. But at least we expect fuel charges,” Hassan confirms.
President Sumo taxi stand of the village Nihama, Khursheed Ahmad says most of the people approach them, even the neighbouring villages ask for taxis and they have to offer their services in any way and all the 30 taxis of the stand are being utilised for ferrying villagers in media hub here.
“Even people form Shopian called me to arrange taxis to take people to Srinagar to protest and highlight the injustices done to them while giving administrative statuses,” Khursheed says.