Jammu and Kashmir Police have seized hundreds of two-wheelers in the Valley in the past two days, without giving the bikers any reason why. The political parties have condemned the act and asked the government to take pro-people steps, rather than breaking the “back of people” and crippling them economically.
Jammu and Kashmir Police, which has a very large social media presence and which tweets about almost all its activities, is silent about their recent move across Srinagar and other parts of the Valley.
Till Wednesday evening, scores of bikers were seen outside different police stations, waiting in the hope their mo’bikes will be released.
“I was going to a bank at about 2.30 pm. I was stopped near Poloview. I thought it was a routine check. Instead, I was directed to ride to the nearby police station, where my bike was seized. I have all the papers and was wearing a helmet as well. The police didn’t check anything,” said a person who was waiting outside the Kothibagh police station on Wednesday.
A Class XII student who was returning from his tuition at uptown Jawaharnagar said his scooterette was seized on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s 6 pm now, and I’m still hoping they will release it,” he said.
Srinagar-based journalist Burhan Bhat took to Twitter to narrate his own experience. He wrote he had been stopped close to the Soura police station in Srinagar, where police confiscated the keys of his two-wheeler. “They asked me to return home, and said some senior police officer had ordered them to get hold of exactly 70 bikes till evening.”
Another biker whose bike was seized told Outlook that on Wednesday evening, he was going to the passport office to check the status of his passport application, when he was stopped and his bike was taken to a police station. “I live in Rangreth, on the outskirts of Srinagar. Just now, my father said he wanted to pick me up, but he too fears his bike will be seized if he tries to do so. Meanwhile, my fear is that even if this police station releases my bike, another police station will seize it. I don’t know what to do,” he said. He was still outside the police station, anticipating his bike would be released, when he last spoke to Outlook.
Expectedly, the police offensive against mo’bikes hit delivery boys the most. The National Conference called the “rampant motorbike seizures” as “undue intimidation”. Party spokesperson Ifra Jan said, motorbike seizures by security forces and police is unjustified. “The much-touted “Naya Kashmir” promised on August 5, 2019, has turned out to be a basket of deplorable measures like rampant scanning of bags of women and kids. Unjustified seizure of motorbikes is the newest entry to this list.”
She adds: “Needless to say, such measures have a lasting psychological bearing on people, especially on kids, sisters and mothers. Reportedly, the forces are confiscating bikes despite due papers and licenses being produced by their rightful owners, particularly motorcyclists. The anxiety level of people is soaring high due to such unjustified actions.”
Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is at present in the Valley, said due to the steep rise in price of petrol, majority of Valley residents prefer two-wheelers to cars. “Our students, employees and others use two-wheelers for financial reasons.
If motorcycles are seized by police, or two-wheelers are not allowed on roads, what will we use for commuting? I condemn these acts,” he said. The government, he said, should take pro-people steps. “These people have suffered immensely in the past 30 years of militancy. Someone has lost a son, father, or brother in every fourth or fifth house here. Their backs are already broken. In this situation, the government should take positive steps and make the atmosphere conducive to development,” he added. The police are yet to respond to the outrage of political parties over the seizures of bikes so far.