|Early Times Report|
Srinagar, Feb 14: As the Srinagar-Jammu Highway is closed for the last three days, stranded passengers are becoming victims of blackmail of road side dhabas and eateries who are allegedly charging exorbitant prices from them and government agencies have failed to keep a check on the malpractice.
"Shopkeepers are fleecing the stranded passengers on the Highway," said Sameer, a stranded passenger. Ghulam Rasool, a Sumo driver said that whenever Highway gets closed, the Dhabawallas and hoteliers get to fleecing passengers by charging exorbitant rates for food items. "I didn't take dinner for two days as the restaurant owner was demanding Rs 200 for a plate of rice with Rajma," he said.
Javeed Ahmad, a government employee, who tried to return from Jammu along with his family, said there is an "open loot" on the Highway. "For a cup of tea and bread, we are forced to pay Rs 50 at Ramban, where we are stranded for two days due to closure of the highway," he said.
"For a small room, they charge us Rs 3000. We don't have any money left and government too failed to keep a check on the prices," he said.
"If somebody questioned them, they (Dhabawallas, restaurant owners, hoteliers) not only refused to sell the product but indulged in abusive language," he said.
"There were no facilities available and the shopkeepers are rampantly looting the travellers," another passenger, Aman Mehra said.
He said he had to pay Rs 2000 per night for a small shabby room that was shared by some other stranded passengers.
He said government had made no arrangements for the people who were stranded on the Highway.
A senior official assured that he will look into the matter.