To clear the road for themselves, they make people shiver in their shoes!
High-handedness of VIP escorts in Kashmir is now a routine. Almost every pedestrian, commuter and driver on streets of Kashmir might have tasted the rough hands of VIP escorts and their arrogant drivers. This inconsiderate situation of harassment becomes more severe with the shifting of Darbar. Recently an arrogant escort party of some VIP was chased and severely reprimanded by DIG traffic for wielding lathies and frightening people while clearing way for their master. This is only one out of hundreds of such incidents. Pertinent to mention, this incident came to the notice of daring DIG while he was monitoring traffic movement in civvies. Kashmiries are now habitual of insults showered by the escorts and security apparatus of so-called dignitaries and take it as a routine. But the most recent incident of thrashing participants of the prestigious Mughal Car Rally by the escorts of some VIP at Pampore is not only unfortunate but criminal as well. These professional adventure sportsmen were our respectable guests and were part of a prestigious sports event with important message of quality tourism and improving security situation in the valley. Unfortunately! Petty egoistic approach of VIP concerned and pampering attitude of his flattering escorts ruined our whole idea of selling hard earned rejuvenated tourist trade and scenario of peace. In Jammu And Kashmir State there is no proper classification of dignitaries and VIPs as prescribed within the existing protocol list. Both at national and state level the Order of precedence denoting the protocol list of dignitaries is well defined. Dignitaries and particularly their staff are lawfully bound to adhere to this constitutional categorization. Use of beacon lights, the most controversial and exploitative issue in Kashmir is yet unsettled. While being on road every dignitary is classified by the law as per his/her status and is bound to use the specified beacon lights of particular colour, with or without flasher. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways government of India has specified from time to time under clause (iii) of provision to rule 108 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989, which vehicle carrying dignitaries shall be permitted to use beacon lights with specific colours and flashers.
Unfortunately in this part of the country neither protocol of precedence nor code of beacon lights is followed strictly. Here, all ranks of unqualified (unqualified for beacon lights) civil and security officers besides every Tom, Dick and Harry of political or any other exploitative lineage puts red beacon light on top of their vehicles, that too with flasher. As per the Central Motor Vehicles Rules only President of India along with other dignitaries up to 5 star equivalent officers of Air force can use red beacon lights with flasher but in this land of over governance unchecked use of beacon lights and huge contingent of escorts following the cavalcades of so-called VIPs is a common sight. Within prescribed norms there is a cap on number of beacon light topped vehicles and if provisions of the law are strictly put into practice only a handful of vehicles along with ambulances and police vans will end up with beacon lights. For last more than a decade the turbulent situation within the valley has allowed many elements to exploit the unstable security situation to promote their own personal interests and satisfy their false ego. Majority of top and middle ranking officers’ of the state misuse the security apparatus not only to over-protect themselves but also as status symbol. By resorting to abusive use of power and brazenness they try to browbeat others and scare the common man. It is interesting to note that petty political workers of least political importance and worth flash beacon lights and misuse their security cover and escorts. Mostly the threat perception of so-called protected persons is not assessed on the basis of merits but on political considerations and level of ‘Sufarish’ wielded by the person. With change in guard in the government the list of protected persons with political roots changes overnight. This brazen violation of rules and ethics of enlightened and empowered society does not auger well for the democracy; system of authority our politicians and policy makers are braggingly proud of. Government should immediately put the right mechanism of assessing threat perception of individuals with high risk to their security and should implement the existing laws and rules with regard to provision of security cover and other necessary escorts. Authorities should also strictly implement the provisions of motor vehicles act particularly that of beacon light so that people at large can be saved from the wrath of unscrupulous elements and sycophantic escorts of self styled VIPs.