Highway woes continue, even dead bodies not allowed

Imtiyaz Wani, KAS officer stopped from carrying father’s body

A senior government officer was today forced to vent his anger and frustration in public after the ambulance carrying the body of his father was not allowed to move forward to Srinagar from the Jammu highway in view of the restrictions imposed on civilian traffic owing to Amarnath Yatra.

The incident, which happened in the Nagrota area of Jammu along the Jammu-Srinagar highway, has generated shock, anger and outrage in the Valley. The ambulance carrying the coffin was on way from Delhi to the Kulgam area of south Kashmir.

Senior government officer Imtiyaz Wani, who is the director of finance in the Public Health Engineering Department took to Facebook to narrate his ordeal while carrying the body of his father, who died in Delhi on Wednesday.

“All civil rights are subordinate to Amarnath Yatra while moving from Jammu to Kashmir. I am not being allowed to carry my father’s dead body. What hell the life of a common Kashmiri is. Inspector Rakesh of J&K Police on yatra duty categorically said the body shall not be allowed,” Wani, a 1999 batch Kashmir Administrative Service officer wrote on his Facebook account.

Talking to Kashmir Post, Wani said he was stopped at the Sidhra bypass in the wee hours, but was allowed to move when the police saw the body.

“As we reached the Nagrota bypass early morning, the police stopped the ambulance and categorically said they won’t allow the ambulance to move ahead as civilian traffic is banned during the yatra movement. I pleaded with them that I am a senior public servant but they did not listen. We were stopped for over an hour and when a yatra vehicle developed a snag and stopped, we sped away. We were later stopped at multiple points along the highway,” Wani said.

The ambulance was, however, later allowed to move smoothly from Ramban to Veerinag in Kulgam. Wani’s father had been ailing from cancer and was shifted to Delhi.

A senior traffic police officer in Jammu said the ambulance was allowed to move from Nagrota.

“The incident came to my notice through social media and I verified it from my officials but nothing of this sort took place. A family with a body reported at the Nagrota traffic police checkpost around 3.45 am before the movement of the yatra convoy and it proceeded without any problem. Besides, there is no traffic official named Rakesh Kumar with us. We have verified it from the department,” said Joginder Singh, SSP (Traffic), Jammu.

The civilian traffic along the 96-km Nashri-Kulgam stretch is banned from 10 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon for the yatra movement. The ban order has evoked strong anger and resentment among locals who have accused authorities of turning the annual pilgrimage into a military exercise. Recently, Kashmir’s divisional head Baseer Khan had said that there was no blanket ban on traffic movement along the highway during the yatra movement.