Commuters left stranded, travel in crammed mini-buses to reach city
Anantnag: Thousands of people travelling from different parts of south Kashmir to Srinagar are forced to wait for hours and then cram into mini-buses as the administration has blocked entry of public cabs (Sumo’s and Tavera’s) into Srinagar city, for reasons no one seems to be aware of.
This herding of people into mini-buses is taking place after the administration has spent crores of rupees on creating awareness on social distancing and perils of crowded places.
The cab drivers and commuters that Kashmir Reader talked to said that the administration out of the blue has started stopping cabs at Pantha Chowk – the entry point to Srinagar city from the south – while the cab drivers are told to return from there.
“This has been happening for almost a week now. We are forced by policemen to drop off our passengers and take a U-turn. Every day my passengers tell me what a nightmare it has become for them to visit Srinagar,” said Muhammad Amin, a cab driver.
Thousands of people travel to work, to hospitals and other places from different parts of south Kashmir every day. Now they find themselves stranded at Pantha Chowk, looking for a means of transport or a lift.
“I was travelling to the SMHS hospital to donate blood to a relative in need. But the policemen made us disembark from the cab we were in. I have been looking for a lift for more than an hour now,” a passenger from Kulgam district told Kashmir Reader.
Other commuters said that they were reaching late to their work every day now. “First we have to battle the frequent stoppages along NH-44 to make way for forces’ vehicles, and now this. Travelling in Kashmir has become a nightmare now,” a daily commuter told Kashmir Reader.
The commuters said that after waiting for more than an hour, they, in case they are lucky, find a mini-bus which is crammed beyond its capacity. “For the last four days now I have been travelling from Pantha Chowk to Dalgate on the roof of a mini-bus with at least fifty other people. Where is the social distancing? Why is the administration punishing people like this?” a commuter asked.
This reporter talked to a policeman on duty, who said that he was only following orders. “I have heard that a cab driver overtook the cavalcade of an official recently and this is the fallout of that,” the policeman said, on condition of anonymity.
Others maintained that there were some ongoing traffic plans to decongest Srinagar city and stoppage of these cabs is because of that. No one seems to be sure, though.