by Tasavur Mushtaq
As Basant Rath’s unusual style of policing is winning over fans and attracting controversies in Jammu, Kashmir Friday on March 2 was taken by surprise by his early morning post on Facebook, “Today, just for a day, I’ll be in Srinagar.”
Hours later, when amid rain he landed in Srinagar for the first time after his elevation and placement as traffic chief of the state, he was received by top officers of traffic and also few delegations.
Later, he straightway drove to assess the traffic situation at few spots in uptown of Srinagar. Having a day only at his disposal, he had many tasks at hand.
Back to Humhama, he had scheduled meetings with delegations and officers of his wing.
As he entered the hall, the first word of Basant, an insider said was “sorry, I am a bit late” and the participants who stood up to receive him, Basant told them,” don’t stand up. Neither I stand to anybody nor I allow anybody to stand up for me.”
With this, the interactions started with transporters and private school association of Kashmir.
Clear with his message, Basant, sources said was crisp in conveying his message, “violation in any form won’t be tolerated.” He urged them not to resort to overloading, display rate list and install meters in auto rickshaws.
For Van owners, he has a word “to have a valid permit as per seating capacity mentioned in the registration certificate,” besides “not to later seating arrangements of the vehicle and should not modify the fuel kit to a gas kit.”
He strictly advised them to abide by the rules issued from time to time.
To his directions, a van owner asked IGP, the number of students permitted is less. Basant lost his cool, “you want to make me insult you. You charge them reasonably.”
As he met the association of private schools, he asked them to have proper parking space inside the school. “Pick and drop off children should be inside the school, no outside parking.” He also told them to use only yellow buses with fire extinguishers and first aid boxes, besides fulfilling other requisite norms.
He stressed to have only one child per seat and not allow overloading.
When a senior functionary of school association asked them about the parents interfering in transport affairs, his response was “they have a right to see the comfort of their children,” but he asked city police chief to take care “to avoid the unpleasant situation”.
An official present in the meeting told Kashmir Life that a private school association functionary told Basant, “We came just because you rule by heart and not the head. You are pro-people.”
As the discussion was going on, Basant got up to open the window himself and told the delegation “I have come here because I know schools are opening up from March 5” and added, “I have heard there is the mess of schools buses on roads.”
An official of private school raised the concern of bikers on Athwajan road stretch and thereby causing accidents.
Responding to this, Basant was furious. “I am not responsible for that. It is a collective responsibility.”
Basant raised questions, “who is giving them licenses. Who gives them bikes. If parents know it is the risk to their children, why they give them bikes then.”
He even asked her, “If you feel bikes are sources of accidents, don’t permit your students to come on bikes. Stop it.”
Aware of few schools of the valley, Basant was told in the meeting that “you have to manage eight lakh students and three lakh schools.”
Taking selfies with the participants, Basant on a lighter note said, “bahar nahi bolna taqla khushik hai,” (Don’t say it outside that bald is a dry person).
Basant had a word of caution. “I don’t fear anybody. You can go and tell people, I am not afraid, I will make it difficult for violators.”
“Uncle I want to take photograph with you,” Basant told G N Var, president PSAK.
Later he met his batch-mate and friend IGP Kashmir S P Pani and flew back to Jammu and posted on Facebook, again, “Friends, I was in Srinagar today. Spent a few minutes on the roads. Checked the working of our traffic cops at a few traffic lights. Caught hold of a couple of erring matador drivers. Exactly the way I do in Jammu. Met a couple of delegations. I was overwhelmed by the kind of faith they have in me. Spent half an hour with Swayam, the tiger of a man and the present IGP, Kashmir. He showed me around a bit. Together, we will deliver. Insha Allah.”