Post-floods, police no more ‘untouchable’ for Kashmiris

Post-floods, police no more ‘untouchable’ for Kashmiris

Moazum Mohammad

Srinagar: Police in conflict-torn Kashmir is seldom known for winning goodwill of the people, but in the aftermath of last month’s devastating floods it appears the men in khaki are the most sought-after by the flood-hit.
These days long queues can be seen outside police stations for registration of complaints about losses caused by the floods. In Srinagar alone, for instance, more than 50,000 applications from the flood-hit have been so far received by police. The applications for losses include collapsed houses, partially damaged, business establishments, and vehicles.
Before the September deluge, on an average a police station lodged around 100 first information reports annually. But post-floods, 200 FIRs are registered in each police station in Kashmir. Immediately after the floods, the government had asked the flood-hit people to file an FIR with the police station concerned. This was to do away with the cumbersome process of pursuing the cases with revenue officials, most of whom are infamous for their corrupt practices.
The break-up of the data collected by Kashmir Reader reveals that police station Shaheed Gunj alone has received 6,500 applications from business establishments, tenants, government offices and vehicle owners for registration of the report. While 3,000 applications have been disposed by the police after conducting physical verification of the damages, 3,500 are still awaiting for nod.
Similarly, the devastated police station Raj Bagh has received 4,000 applications as of now, and the process is on. Among the applicants, 490 house owners have reported for collapsed houses while 1,200 have sought report for partially damaged houses.
In police station Shergadi, 1328 applications have been registered, of which only 50 are pending for verification. In police station Karan Nagar, police has received 350 applications among which 40 are pending for verification. Police station Batamaloo has received 500 applications out of which 50 are pending for spot verification. Police post Bemina and Bagyas have received 5,959 and 3,200 applications, respectively.
Likewise, 1,900 flood loss complaints have been lodged by police station Kothi Bagh, in the heart of the city, whereas Kral Khud police station has registered 2,800 complaints. In police station Pantha Chowk, 1,351 complaints have been collected while above 7,000 applicants have reported for their losses with police station Parimpora.
In Qamarwari police post, 400 complaints have been registered while its counterparts in Nehru Park have received 1,400 applications. Similarly, police station Saddar has got 970 applications while Chanapora police post have lodged 1,565 complaints.
The people affected by floods under the jurisdiction of police station Nigeen have lodged 2,400 applications for losses while police post Noor Bagh have received 400 applications. In police station Nishat, 795 flood-affected people have lodged their reports whereas 80 people have submitted their complaints with police station Zadibal. More than 4,000 applications have been received by Nowgam police station on the outskirts of the city.
The figures from Maisuma and Ram Munshi Bagh police stations were not available as the Station House Officers concerned refused to divulge the data.
In police station Raj Bagh, which was worst-hit with floodwaters above 20 feet, a police officer on duty said people are still coming up with applications. “The process hasn’t ended yet. Basically, most of the families have shifted to other places, so it will take time for them to register complaints,” said the officer.
Incidentally, most of the police stations in these areas were submerged and the police had to erect makeshift tents and offices to operate. And in order to make the process hassle-free for public, the police have drafted a particular format of application in English language.
“Usually, police report is in Urdu. However, on experimental basis we have drafted a format of our own in English so that people don’t face problem. The application has each section mentioned and the applicant has to just include details,” SDPO Shaheed Gunj, Imran Farooq told Kashmir Reader on Friday.
And to ensure the process is corruption-free, the police have asked the flood-hit to get an approval from local masjid committees.
“Basically, masjid committees act as first stage for scrutinizing applications. It makes the procedure genuine,” Imran said.
Asked what mechanism they adopt to assess the losses, he said the police report is a cursory note of losses; the accurate assessment has to be conducted by the engineering department concerned.
SSP Srinagar, Amit Kumar, admitted there is long rush of applications. However, he said police has been doing well to cope up with the situation.

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