Reckless driving, accidents on rise
The Boulevard is fast turning into hub of accidents as boozers go rowdy or drive recklessly on this picturesque road running along the lake Dal banks. In the recent past Traffic Police has fined around a dozen people on charges of “drunk driving”, the offence cops verified through use of sophisticated breath analyzers.
While roadside brawls have been on rise, the complainants, mostly locals said, even a stroll along the lake banks comes with a risk of being knocked down by some recklessly driven vehicle.
“These people drink on the Boulevard and then go rowdy,” admitted a police official. He said most of the boozers when stopped for reckless driving resort to abuse. “Roadside brawls between police and these drunkards has become a routine,” said a lower-rung cop pleading anonymity adding that “just yesterday a drunk driver slapped my colleague.”
Traffic Police while endorsing the complaints said they have fined at least a dozen offenders for drunk driving. “We are making use of breath analyzers, which showed many of the suspect drunk,” said a Traffic Police official. He, however, quickly added that actual number could be higher as the analyzers fail to detect cases of low intake of alcohol.
Public perception is that presence of some liquor shops in the area invite trouble, including deaths as were witnessed over the years.
This year on July 30, Abid Ahmad Dar, a Shikarawala died when a speeding vehicle after jumping off the parapet hit his Shikara in Dal lake. Witnesses alleged that the driver was drunk while police remains tight-lipped over the issue. Four years back on January 20, 2010, Shaheena Wani of Dalgate, a mother of two was crushed to death by a van driven by allegedly drunk cop. While Shaheena died on the spot her daughter Sakiba was badly wounded.
On 12th of this month, a boozer created a scene on the high security road by pelting stones on vehicles –damaging windscreens of many of them. “In absence of any regulation, the Boulevard has become a safe haven for boozers. Drunkards lie unattended on Boulevard footpaths creating bad impression about Kashmir among tourists,” said Rauf Tramboo, a prominent tour operator.
“I was told by the nearby Shikara Walas and hotel people that we the heads of different tourist trade organizations are not doing anything about this menace,” he admitted.
The Dalgate locals said: “We many times took to streets demanding closure of liquor shops but we got nothing more than assurance from authorities.”
Locals said some areas along the Boulevard have become “boozing hideouts”. “These people come here for nothing but boozing and police allows it,” said a Cheshma Shahi local.