Srinagar: The government agencies that hired minibuses for official work during the recent Assembly polls in Kashmir are yet to pay the transporters.
President New Kashmir Transport Federation (NKTF), Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf, told Kashmir Reader that Police, District Election Officers, and Road Transport Officers hired the passenger vehicles associated with the Federation.
The companies were hired mostly from the seven transport companies including Western Transport, Haji Peer, and Star Transport, he said.
The commitment, he said, was of paying the transporters within a week after the completion of the election process.
“A month later, we are still waiting for the money. We haven’t received a penny from the authorities,” Yousuf said.
As per NKFT, around 200 minibuses were hired by the authorities for about 40 days, amounting to a sum of Rs 80 Lakh.
According to Mohammad Rajab Beigh, NKFT’s General Secretary, the drivers were “reluctant” to lend the vehicles given their “experience of the parliamentary elections.”
“We were forced us to provide the vehicle,” he said. “The police threatened to book us under PSA and label us as pro-freedom in case we refused to cooperate.”
Nazir Ahmad, a driver whose vehicle was utilized during the elections, said police “apprehended my documents including my driving license to force me to provide them my vehicle.”
The delay in payments is making the drivers suffer. Wasif Nazir, a driver, said: “Our survival depends on minibuses and we also have to pay the taxes. Yet, the authorities are delaying our payments.”
The authorities have also withheld the promised compensation to 30 minibuses damaged partially during the elections and to eight drivers who were injured, according to NKTF.
“We risked our buses and lives after the administration promised to pay us compensation in case of any damage. But now the authorities has forgotten their promise,” Ali Mohammad, a driver who was injured in a stone pelting incident during elections, said.
Official at Police Control Room here said the delay was due to lack of funds.
“There was no money in the treasury. But we expect the funds to be released in day or two, and the bills of transporters will be cleared immediately afterwards,” an official said, wishing not to be named as he wasn’t authorized to speak to press. When contacted, Commissioner Secretary Transport Dilshada Khan refused to comment.