Srinagar: Mutton dealers have accused traffic policemen of demanding bribes of Rs 1,000-1,500 on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, causing huge inconvenience for the smooth entry of mutton into the Kashmir Valley.
The General Secretary of the All Kashmir Wholesale Mutton Dealers Association, Mehraj-ud-Din Ganie, told Kashmir Reader that traffic policemen on duty at Udhampur demand the bribe before allowing a sheep and goat laden truck to enter Kashmir.
“They tell us that the traffic is one-way and the truck cannot be allowed. Then they seek the bribe and allow the vehicle to enter when paid,” said Mehraj and added that there is no provision for restricting a livestock truck from unhindered entry.
He said that earlier a local would stop trucks for the bribes; however this was stopped after the dealers complained to the higher ups. Now it is the traffic cops who directly ask for it, he said.
“We are at the receiving end of this. Last time, we refused to pay and then had to pay challan for overloading, which was never checked. They impose challan on flimsy grounds,” he said.
Firdous Ahmad, President, Chinar Welfare Association, a representative body of Delhi-based mutton dealers, also told Kashmir Reader that the bribe-seeking cops were causing great inconvenience. He too alleged that there used to be a local earlier who demanded the bribe. His body had earlier written to former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to complain that truck drivers are detained for two to three days if they do not agree to pay the bribe. A copy of the letter was sent to the CAPD Minister, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, DG police and IGP traffic.
Every day, Mehraj said, a group of nearly 30 sheep-laden trucks cross Udhampur and all of them are asked to pay. Now, he said, the cops are asking them to pay the bribe collectively once in a month to end the daily hassles.
Deputy Superintendent Traffic, Udhampur, Ajay Jammal told Kashmir Reader that he too has received complaints about the malpractice which is under inquiry these days.
IGP Traffic Basant Rath did not respond to repeated phone calls and text messages from this newspaper.