Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat

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Witnessed by hundreds of awestruck passersby Mushtaq’s life came to an end in a very pathetic and painful way at Srinagar’s busy Budshah Chowk.

Mushtaq, along with another person was repairing electric lines on a pole. The gory moments of his death were filmed on a mobile phone. The footage instantly found its way to social media websites highlighting the official apathy and negligence.

Hailing from Goripora, Rainawari area of Srinagar, Mushtaq, who was in his late thirties, was a labourer and worked with a contractor who was implementing a contract of improving LT and HT lines in the area.

An official at PDD department while saving his skin said that the slain was supposed to repair a different pole but climbed up on a live wire. The area offered passage to two 11000 volt feeders.

As the two were on the electric pole, struggling to survive, hundreds of commuters were on the road crying and beating their chests. There was uproar and the police had to intervene to save the situation. It was in this melee that someone was filming the “murder” that will be a crucial piece of evidence to bring the culprits to book. The video shows Mushtaq, calmly dead on the power lines and his companion dangling upside down struggling to survive.

As concerned people assembled on the road creating chaos on the otherwise crowded bridge, the government drove rescue teams from the fire services department that got the dead man untangled from the wires.

They first somehow got the seriously injured man out and drove him to hospital. Witnesses alleged the PDD took a long time to disconnect the circuit and rescue also came late.

It is unlikely that the families of slain Mushtaq and his fellow would get any benefits from government as they were private labourers and not government employees. They also lacked any insurance cover because the insurance to workers is not part of the contract mechanism.

The two labourers were hired by a local contracting agency, Abid Electricals. They were repairing high-tension wires in the locality when suddenly the electricity, which was turned off at the Sub-Transmission Davison for maintenance work, was turned on leading to death of one labourer and critical injuries to the other.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Farooq Ahmed Lone, has directed Assistant Commissioner Srinagar Sajad Qadri to enquire into the alleged negligence of electric department.

Following up the incident, the PDD higher ups immediately put AEE, JE and a senior technician under suspension, for the alleged negligence, till further orders.

But despite the blame game, will there be any real change in handling such situations, only time will tell.

– Jibran Nazir

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