Reports about fleecing labourers from outside Jammu and Kashmir on the pretext of their ‘smooth entry’ into the Union Territory were under circulation for quite some time but the confirmation by police has exposed the harsh truth of unscrupulous elements making money even out of human misery. The COVID times should have seen camaraderie among the people but unfortunately the reports suggest the cruelty of the social order. The police have arrested thirteen persons, registered seven cases in this regard and cautioned the labourers against the touts, saying there is no need to pay money to anyone as everyone wishing to enter Jammu and Kashmir has to follow the set protocol and undergo COVID-19 test, which is done at Lakhanpur free of cost. The unscruplo0us elements are being tagged as ‘touts’. They include some policemen also, who can’t be dubbed as touts. How to tackle the men in uniform, who have been found indulging in the most shameful act of getting benefit from the virus? The probe against an assistant sub-inspector and others in Khaki is not enough for their alleged crime of trying to allow entry of people from the second bridge over Ravi River in violation of the set protocols. They should be made accountable by invoking disciplinary action as per rules. The guidelines are pretty clear. The entrants have to undergo some protocol. However, skipping this by paying Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 per head could lead to a dangerous situation, especially as the Jammu division is witnessing alarming spike in the COVID cases. Saying that there is no proof against the ‘erring’ cops is pre-judging the complaints, especially when a probe has been ordered. During the war against coronavirus, the police have emerged as one of the important components of warriors, who are risking their own and their families’ lives to serve humanity. This had changed the mindset of the people about COVID warriors but the shameful act of some black sheep has potential of tarnishing the image of the entire force. The police must take cognizance of widespread complaints about entrants being charged for ‘smooth entry’ into Jammu and Kashmir at various points on the national highway and take strict action against the wrong-doers. Such a malady cannot succeed without active connivance. This should be kept in mind while proceeding in the matter so that the ‘corrupt warriors’ are shown their due place.
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