‘Arbitrary’ Seizure of Two-Wheelers Shuts Down E-commerce Services in Srinagar
SRINAGAR — E-commerce, Food and Grocery Delivery services in Kashmir’s capital city Srinagar are suspended as the Jammu and Kashmir police and paramilitary CRPF have launched a massive crackdown on two-wheelers, ahead of the Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit, seizing hundreds of motorcycles.
About 4,000 youngsters are employed by over three dozen courier companies in Kashmir. The “unnecessary” police harassment has led them to the brink of leaving their jobs. Many delivery boys have been beaten by the policemen.
Gatoes, a platform based on hyperlocal on-demand food & grocery delivery, said its business operation has come to a halt because of the seizing of two-wheelers and people can’t order their food.
Another delivery service, Fastbeetle, has also come to standstill due to the seizing of bikes. Sheikh Sami Ullah, the co-founder of the service said, “Our operations continue to be at a halt due to incessant seizing of our delivery bikes in the city.”
The crackdown on the two-wheelers began last week after a spate of non-local killings.
Scores of people were seen waiting outside police stations, pleading to the officials to release their motorcycles. Surprisingly, the riders whose documentation was complete weren’t spared either. Altaf Ahmad, a resident of downtown Srinagar, said that his motorbike was seized although he carried all the documents and had put on a crash helmet.
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A student, Inayat Hussain, said that he was travelling to Kashmir University on his Scooty and was stopped at Nigeen Police Station. Before Hussain could take out his documents, the policemen directed him to hand over the keys and go home. Hussain pleaded to the police officials till late in the night but returned home without his Scooty.
Many two-wheeler owners whose motorbikes were seized said that they were told to take back their bikes after October 25.
Sheikh Yasir Shafi, another city resident expressing helplessness said that this is dictatorial. “We are helpless. We cannot question.” Shafi whose motorcycle was also seized said that the police officials seizing the motorcycles said that “they are following orders from the above”.
Journalists also had to face the ire on the city roads. A local journalist, Burhan Bhat, said a group of policemen stopped him on Wednesday near Soura on the city’s outskirts and snatched the keys of his two-wheeler.
In a series of tweets, Burhan said: “They ordered me to go home and said some senior police officer has ordered us to get exactly 70 bikes till evening. ‘It’s called Gunda Raj,’ one of the policemen yelled as I reasoned. He took my cell phone after I told him that I’m a journalist.”
He said that the police refused to provide a reason for seizing his bike and that, while they allowed him to leave after a prolonged argument, other people remained pleading with them.
The Jammu and Kashmir police denied that the crackdown was linked to Amit Shah’s visit. A police spokesperson said that the crackdown was linked to the spate of targeted killings.
In a Tweet, the Kashmir Zone Police said that the seizure of bikes and the shutting down of some internet towers was due to “terror” and “violence” and denied any link to the home minister’s visit.
Security has been beefed up in Kashmir as Amit Shah begins his three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir today. His visit comes at a time when civilian killings have increased and a large-scale military operation is going on in Poonch. Nine army personnel have been killed in the operation so far.
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Basit Parray is a trainee staff writer at the Mountain Ink. He is a bachelor's student of Journalism & Mass Communication at the Cluster University, Srinagar.