Killings leave taxi drivers in Baramulla running frightened Service

Srinagar, June 15, 2015 (PPI-OT): In occupied Kashmir, the spate of recent killings by unidentified gunmen in Baramulla district has left taxi drivers running frightened in the district. Each night the drivers are required to send one vehicle to the 29 Rashtriya Rifles camp for use by the Army. The drivers get their vehicles back only the next evening. They say the Army does not pay them.

“It is nothing but beggar [forced labour]. They give us only one litre of fuel for every 10 km they travel. We don’t want to give our vehicles but we have no choice,” Mohammad Shahid, a 43-year-old driver at the Kreeri Taxi Stand told in a media interview. “We don’t know what happens in our vehicles as they don’t want the driver with the vehicle.”

Soon after the Army was contacted for comment, a senior officer from the Wattergam camp urged this reporter to refrain from reporting on the practice and said while the army used vehicles from taxi stands, they also paid the drivers – a claim denied by the drivers.

Following queries by a reporter of English newspaper, the drivers at the Wagoora and Kreeri Taxi stands told him that Army men visited them on Saturday afternoon and asked them to sign a no objection certificate, which they refused.

More than 20 drivers said that the practice had been going on for the past 13 years. The drivers are made to sign on ‘a form’ or put their ‘thumb impression’ when they get their vehicles. In a small office in the taxi stands of Kreeri and Wagoora villages, a chart is pasted on the wall. It is a roster that details the schedule of vehicles to report for Army duty.

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Kashmir Media Service
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