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USING THE INK OF MY TEARS I WROTE TO YOU ,THE ONE WITH GOLDEN ATTIRE.

These verses are a fair display of our contemporary atmosphere in Kashmir. With the growing number of vehicles, roads in Kashmir are spattered with blood as accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities have been mounting over the years.

No doubt, road accidents are in high numbers because of government apathy for ignoring road widening and road signs, while as the negligence of drivers also cannot be taken lightly while breaking signals, using mobile phones while driving, overtake from the wrong side. Surprisingly, recklessly youngesters performing wheelie on bikes, citizens take safety features as the least important thing when they drive vehicles or ride bikes .

Many people believe that the government is not doing enough to educate drivers on traffic rules and regulations. A lot of people who drive, don’t have licenses and those who have licenses, got them unlawfully, without taking part in any driving tests.

While as majority of People don’t follow basic safety precautions like, fastening of seat belts, or wearing helmets.

The analysis of official road accident data Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) of 2016 reveals that about 1317 accidents and 413 deaths take place every day on Indian roads which further translates into 55 accidents and loss of 17 lives on an average every hour in our country. Interestingly first half of the year 2017, there has been a 3 % reduction in road accidents between January to July 2017, along with a 4.75 % reduction in road accident fatalities but a data for 6 months or one year decline cannot be considered as an actual decline in road accidents. As the time series data of past 20 years of road accidents were only seen the rising trend.

The roads in Kashmir are unique compared to other country road conditions, due to mixed traffic conditions. Kashmir roads always deal with a mix of high-speed motor vehicles, all to gather sharing the same road space with unsafe road infrastructure. All contribute to the high accident rates. The post-accident scenario in Kashmir is under a ramshackle condition causing major accident scenarios into fatalities due to inadequate emergency trauma care facilities, delayed response time.

Prevailing data gaps in road accident data collection.

In the evening of 17th November 2018, my 18-year-old cousin Sakib was travelling back from Manasbal ( a picnic spot in Bandipora district ) to home with his another friend on scooty. Though this particular day was to be his last. He was struck by a Truck in Sumbal area and left him seriously injured. He managed to drag himself to the side of the road and for the next few minutes few passers-by managed to rescue him towards the local Hospital situated there in Sumbal , where from he was immediately referred to SKIMS Soura for further treatment, where he ( Sakib) lost his battle with life. The circumstances surrounding his death became unacceptable to all of us in family.

It is observed that about 90 percent of truck drivers use hashish or other intoxicants, some even use mobiles while driving. The roads of Kashmir lack surveillance to check people for over speeding or breaking other traffic laws. The authorities here in Kashmir is lax in putting up speeding signs and boards marking dangerous terrain ahead while also failing to provide safety instructions.

Despite, the high number of accidents that take place on Kashmir’s roads, emergency facilities are not available to the injured, many lives are lost before help can be provided.

My cousins phone call on that day telling me the news remains the most shocking moment of my life.

In between calls and texts from relatives to friends , I could not know how bad the situation really was. But a part of me was wishing me nothing was OK, and I desperately wanted to believe it.

At around 7 :15 pm , my cousin brother gave me a call from Sakibs home, and in between weepy sobs he said: ” Sakib is no more,” and immediately hung up the phone without giving me a chance to speak.

It took me a seconds to understand the full implication of what he said. Though , It was hard for all of our family to relatives to accept, and it was even harder for us to keep it in. Minutes after that, mourners were rushing into cousin’s house, Even though I objected myself , and wasn’t ready yet to mourn him.

After all of this, As I sit in room lonely, I keep thinking that I could have done more to convince him not to buy a bike. My heart is so broken, having gone through such a terrifying experience. At night, I wonder what it would have been like to have lost Sakib and immediately try to shake that thought away. And since the number of deaths in accidents in the Kashmir is alarming, I can’t help but think how other families are dealing with such traumatic incidents.
With sobs and tears , the mother of Sakib is continuously calling him to return back to home, “Syetha Chem aash Chaenei myane jigro ~
Yitamo roi haavtam .

I’m pinning a lot of hopes on you my son, please come, show me thy illuminating face.

SUGGESTIONS TO IMPROVE SITUATION

■The Government of Kashmir needs to make some core courses or training program before the provision of license and traffic police should keep strong check and balance in this regard.

■ The road accidents are serious issue but can be solved easily if we enhance the system by removing corruption from our society. Furthermore, corrupt officers should be removed from their designations.

■Teach your children basic rules and precaution for crossing and riding on roads. Practice these principles before them when you are on roads and set good examples to them.

■Parents must take care of this law and do not permit their children for driving until they are 18 and have a valid driving license, Kids grow up quickly, and constantly surprise parents/relatives with what they can do.

■Unfortunately, vehicles do not always stop for pedestrians. Kids need a hand whenever cars may be around. This includes at pedestrian crossings and traffic lights.

■Despite these high and alarming figures, car manufacturers in State must do enough to provide safety in their cars. Basic safety features like airbags, ABS and EBD .

The government should prioritise widening of roads in Kashmir . It should also ensure that only capable drivers are given licenses and penalise anyone who breaks the law. This needs to be done at the earliest to stop the loss of innocent lives.

Author can be reached at suhailmir125@gmail.com

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