KISHTWAR, May 6: The Kishtwar township observed a near total bandh today with traffic remaining off the roads, while shops and other business establishments as well as educational institutions remained closed for the day in protest against the dilapidated condition of roads in the district and the worsening condition of Batote –Kishtwar highway which has become a death trap due to failure of GREF authorities to maintain it properly.
The irate people also held protest demonstrations at various places in the town raising slogans against the GREF authorities and State administration’s callous attitude towards Kishtwar. The people extended the bandh call for another day tomorrow and also decided to hold hunger strike in support of their demand.
The protestors resorted to road blockade at various places including Malipath, Kuleed Chowk, Sangram Bata, Sarkoot road and in front of DC Office from early in the morning. They did not even allow the two wheelers to move.
The students could not appear in the examinations nor the employees’ could visit their respective office due to bandh call.
The people were demanding immediate black topping of Malipath to Jalna road which is in worst condition and has led to health hazards in the area as the drainage water overflowing the road enters the residential houses.
The protestors also held 118 RCC who is maintaining the hilly roads as well as Batote –Kishtwar Highway responsible for the worst condition of roads saying that all roads in the district have become death traps and the GREF authorities as well as the Government have taken the people of this hilly belt for granted which will not be tolerated now.
The protestors alleged that GREF authorities have also completely failed to maintain the Batote -Kishtwar highway and in the event of a landslide which hampers the movement of vehicular traffic on the highway, a small portion of the road is cleared to make the passage for a single vehicle and no efforts are made to maintain the road properly.
They alleged the condition of Kishtwar -Padder road is also worst and till authorities don’t not take its renovation in hand, the strike will continue.
The bandh call was given by people of Kishtwar after their talks with district administration and GREF authorities ended into a deadlock during a day long protest yesterday at Kuleed Chowk.
To find an amicable solution to the issue and persuade the people to withdraw the bandh call, the District Development Commissioner (DDC) Kishtwar, Javed Ahmed Khan along with ASP, Abdul Qayoom and CEO GREF visited the dharna site Kuleed Chowk today and held talks with representatives of the people there but they failed to motivate them to call off the strike.
The administration assured the people that the work on the renovation of roads and construction of drains will be started within 10 days, but the protestors turned it down outright saying the same be started from today.
Later DC held meeting with the protestors who had resorted to road blockade in front of his Office but it also failed to yield any result as the protestors were adamant that the GREF should start the black -topping of the Malipath – Jalna road immediately.
When contacted DC Kishtwar justifying the public demand said that administration had asked people to give some time but the protestors were adamant that the work be started from today.
He said that district administration and CEO GREF held talks with the agitating people and persuaded them to withdraw the protest as it needs some time for GREF to seek sanction for renovation of road. However they did not agree and continued protest.
Meanwhile various political parties including BJP, NPP, Congress, Traders Association and Trade Union leaders have extended full support to bandh call.
Meanwhile Minister of State for I&C and Home Sajjad Ahmed Kichloo today asked the BRO to immediately start repair and maintenance of roads in Kishtwar district.
In a statement issued here today, Kichloo said that due to extremely bad condition of roads, people at several places in Kishtwar district are protesting over poor condition of roads, especially from Malipath to Kuleed Chowk, Batote to Kishtwar, Kishtwar to Padder and Kishtwar to Sinthan Top.
Assuring the people about immediate repair and maintenance of all roads in the district, Kichloo said he has taken up the issue with Director General BRO. “ I have written to DG, BRO and I am sure that work on all these roads will commence soon’’, he added.
The Minister said he understands the problem of the people living on both sides all along the National Highway and termed the demand of agitating people as genuine.