Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Corruption in J&K Transport Department is Also Fatal

Corruption is more than pocketing money and breaking laws. When licenses are bought by unqualified drivers, it results in a mayhem

Driving Licences on Sale

Mudasir Tariq (Kashmir Monitor)

It is no secret that road accidents today are the biggest source on unnatural deaths in Kashmir. But have we ever wondered why this is happening? Based on a tip off by some concerned citizens, The Kashmir Monitor conducted a detailed investigation into what seems like a huge scam.

Over the investigations The Kashmir Monitor found out that every day the Regional Transport Office issues driving licences, ranging from scooters to trucks without proper procedure and verification. Without going through formal trials, anybody, literally anybody in the state can secure a driving licence just by passing some money to the agents who then provide them with these easily available driving licenses.

According to sources in the transport department, there are various agents who have ties with higher ups in the transport department and make these licenses available to anyone who can pay them.

As per The Kashmir Monitor's investigation these agents demand a payment of Rs 3500 to Rs 5000 for LMV (Light Motor vehicle) licences and Rs 7000 to Rs15000 for HLV (Heavy Load Vehicle) licences, depending on how urgently you need the licence. “The department is lacking proper mechanism; they provide licences as if they are giving out some charity without thinking that they are committing a crime. People who don’t even know how to drive a bicycle are possessing heavy vehicle licenses, by doing this they are playing with lives of the people. This is the reason that road accidents are growing day by day,” said Abdul Rashid, a retired traffic department employee.

While going through the rules for securing a valid driving license an applicant has to fill an Application in Form no. 4, Medical Certificate in Form no 1 A, a Valid Learner License and after that he has to go through trails. As per sources only seven to ten percent of applicants pass those trails while as all others secure licenses through unfair means. “When I went through trials, there were seventy two candidates among which only five passed the trials. When I went to get my license I found some thirty licences issued by the department, these were the licences of all those candidates whom I saw during trails and all of them had failed in trails,” said Bashir Ahmad (name changed).

While as the worst case is said to be securing a heavy load vehicle licence, as per norms a person who is heaving a light motor vehicle licence can acquire a heavy load vehicle licence only on the conditions if he passes in trials while driving a tipper but as against this people prefer to pay agents and get these licences easily. “There is hardly any tipper used for conducting tests for Heavy Motor vehicles. So those who want a licence just pay up”, says an RTO insider.

However after securing these licences there is nobody to catch hold of those drivers as the traffic police cannot determine whether the licence is issued officially or unofficially. “We cannot differentiate whether the licence has been issued officially or unofficially, because every licence is having the stamp and sign of ARTO’S. We cannot determine whether it is fake or genuine,” said a traffic cop wishing anonymity.

Meanwhile another prospective driver Aaliya (name changed) told The Kashmir monitor that she couldn’t get a driving license as she fails to drive well in reverse gear but now after paying an agent rupees four thousand she has obtained a driving license. “I can’t drive well in reverse, so I contacted an agent whom I paid 4000 rupees and I got my license just in a month,” said Aaliya. Few day’s back The Kashmir monitor talked to a person whose minor son was arrested in connection with drugs while driving a Maruti 800 in Mumbai. A asked how could he drive to Mumbai when he has not attained an age to secure a license he replied, “Anything is possible here, he got a license just by paying some money to an agent, but he was knowing the driving very well,” father said.

Earlier this a year a city court had observed that in a number of cases the accident victims and/or their dependents are left without any remedy against the Insurance Company where the offending driver is found to have invalid and defective license. On February 16, the Court had directed the department to keep available online details of all the licenses issued in J&K. However, as per reports the department has till now failed to make all the records available on the internet.

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