Srinagar: The residents of Kohnkhan, Dalgate are up in arms against what they describe as illegal activities in the area frequented by low budget tourists.
They allege there is a nexus between non-local cab drivers, local police and the Shikarawalas which has turned the area into a hub of criminal activity and illicit trade.
A delegation of residents and traders from Kohnkhan visited Kashmir Observer office and complained that authorities were turning a blind eye to the activities in the area.
They said that sale of liquor and drugs was going on in the area for long and large number of youth can be seen roaming in the area for purchase of these items.
They allege that taxi drivers from Jammu and Katra have established unauthorised stand in Kohnkhan and they are involved in the trade in league with some shikarawalas.
“The non-local drivers also supply drugs and liquor to the shikarawalas, who then supply them to the local youth and tourists, alleged Gulzar Ahmed, a local resident. The residents also complained that the area has become unsafe for the
inhabitants because the drivers roam around, drunk at night and hurl abuses at people.
The local youth are increasingly falling prey to liquor addiction, said Ghulam Rasool, a Pashmina seller from Kohnikhan.
We have approached police many times regarding the issue but they have failed to take any action till now. They only come to collect their Hafta from the drivers and the shikarawalas. They are hand in glove with the drivers and the shikarawalas, Bilal Ahmed, a local grocer alleged.
If Bihar government can ban alcohol consumption for the benefit of their people why cant our government follow in their footsteps? Why cant Kashmir authorities put a blanket ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in public places? These drivers are turning our beautiful valley into a hub of illegal activities, said Noor Muhammad, a local hotelier.
According to Gulzar, drivers and Shikarawalas loot and cheat the tourists. For instance the rate fixed for a shikara ride by the government is Rs.500 but the shikarawalas charge a minimum of Rs 4000.
ARTO Srinagar, Wajahat Ahmed, on being asked if the Sumo taxi stand
situated at Kohnkhan was sanctioned by his department, said, No, the stand at kohnkhan is illegal. We have not given any kind of permission to anybody for that
stand. When asked why then they have not taken any action, he said that they will close it down on Monday, adding RTO will soon launch action against all
illegal Sumo stands in the city.
When SSP Tourist Police force, Shahzeda Akhtar was informed about the issue she said, I have taken charge only a few days before and have learnt about this complaint only from you. I will take a suitable action immediately.
Former SSP Tourist Police force, Abdul Qayoom told Kashmir Observer, I had taken up this matter with the higher officials but no action was taken.He however
denied allegations about police officials taking weekly bribes from the traders and drivers there. He said that if residents have any information regarding the issue,
they should immediately report that to authorities so that a suitable action can be taken.
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