“I asked the policeman very humbly why he is fining us, when we have all the documents and we are also maintaining appropriate Covid behavior. The policeman appeared enraged and he called couple of other policemen on the spot”
Discovering a novel way to ‘fleece’ commuters on the national highway, Jammu and Kashmir police have reportedly started forcible collection of funds in the name of Red Cross, especially during Covid induced lockdown.
Talking to The Typewriter, a couple of commuters shared the agony that they had to face while travelling to Kashmir.
“It was Sunday and I was travelling to Kashmir from Jammu in my own vehicle with my family of four. The police stopped us at every important point, right from Nagrota till Qazigund,” said Sanjay Sharma, a businessman from Jammu.
He added that while police at Nagrota, Udhampur and Banihal let them go after checking documents, the police at Qazigund were ‘ill mannered’ and ‘belligerent’.
“On reaching Qazigund, the police had laid a naka and we stopped our vehicle. A policeman in his 40s approached our car and started counting the passengers in the vehicle. He immediately called another policeman and told him that there are four in the vehicle, challan them (char hai, kaato inka challan),” said Sanjay, adding that another policeman with a challan book in his hand approached the car and started talking about high numbers.
Sanjay maintained that when they questioned the policeman about the challan, the policeman infuriated and threatened them to go back.
“I asked the policeman very humbly why he is fining us, when we have all the documents and we are also maintaining appropriate Covid behavior. The policeman appeared enraged and he called a couple of other policemen on the spot,” asserted Sanjay, adding that all the policemen were just pushing for the challan (fine), without telling them the reason.
He said that when they refused to pay any challan and wished to speak to the senior officer of the area, the policemen changed their tone, but were still seeking money.
“I told them I will pay the fine, if they can let me speak to their senior officer. Instead of letting me speak to the senior officer, they changed the context of the argument from fine to contribution for First Aid,” said Sanjay, adding that even while asking for the contribution for the first aid, the police were quarrelsome.
He stated that he told them that contribution for first aid is voluntary and they cannot force it on anyone.
“I told them that the contributions for the first aid are voluntary and they cannot force it on anyone. The policemen appeared offended and they told me to go back, if I did not pay them the money,” said Sanjay.
Another commuter on the national highway, Gurdeep Singh shared the similar experience at Qazigund.
“They stopped us from entering into the town and instead of causing any reason, the policemen were highly unprofessional in their conduct and one thing to note here was that they were pounding on Jammu registered vehicles,” Singh said and added that when the police asked him to pay the fine, he parked the vehicle amid the road, causing inconvenience to other travelers, due to which police had to let him go.
Speaking to The Typewriter, a senior police officer in Srinagar said that although Jammu and Kashmir police have been entrusted to fine people who are not obeying Covid precautions, but that doesn’t mean they will bother all travelers.
“JK police along with members of the Red Cross have started a drive to penalize people who do not follow instructions of the government, but the act of stopping selected vehicles of specific registration number and asking for money by threatening with challan is unacceptable,” said a police officer, wishing anonymity.
He said that he has also received a couple of such complaints from the shopkeepers in Srinagar.
“Many shopkeepers have complained that police are unnecessarily fining them for unknown reasons and I am personally looking into such complaints,” he said and added that as far as police of other districts are concerned, senior police officers are also monitoring such complaints.
Enraged over the query, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), South Kashmir Range, Abdul Jabbar refused to speak over the matter and said this issue pertains to Deputy Commissioner, “may be he has instructed police to collect such fine”.
While talking to The Typewriter, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Anantnag, Piyush Singla said that on the issue, no such directions have been issued for forceful collection. “Police among many other officers have been authorised for collection of fine for COVID violations,” said Singla adding that will take strict note of any forceful collection.