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Death of teenager inspires road safety campaign in Kashmir

According to official figures from January to September, 665 people have lost their lives in traffic accidents across the state.

Written by KUWAR SINGH | Srinagar |
December 9, 2016 4:50:24 pm
road-safety-759 Basit died on spot while his friend is still recuperating in the hospital. (Express Photo)

Death of a teenager in a road accident has inspired a safety campaign in Valley with drivers wearing seatbelts taking selfies and uploading it on social network sites. The voluntary campaign named Basit Memorial Road Safety Campaign is being led by a group of young individuals who lost their 19-year-old friend Basit to a road accident on November 27. He was riding his sports bike, with a friend as ride pillion, when they hit a speeding truck. Basit died on spot while his friend is still recuperating in the hospital.

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“Basit never wore a helmet,” says 29-year-old Javid Parsa, who initiated the campaign. “When we saw his body, his skull had been ruptured.”

In the photographs with his “beloved motorcycle”, Basit is never seen wearing a helmet. “He often used to get in trouble with the traffic police and call me for help,” says Sheikh Wahid, one of the campaign organisers. “Once, an officer told me that this habit will take his life one day,” he adds.

According to official figures from January to September, 665 people have lost their lives in traffic accidents across the state. “The number is much more than the death toll of the current unrest,” Parsa says.

Despite a ban on prepaid mobile internet by J&K government, the campaign has grown to 1200 online supporters. Several prominent citizens including Kashmiri poet Zarif Ahmad Zarif and human rights activist Khurram Parvez have posted their photos on social media as part of the campaign.

“From the beginning we had expected a positive response,” says Parsa. “And the result is now becoming clear on the roads.”

The group has also begun counselling school students about road safety and is organising an awareness rally one month after Basit’s death. “We began only two weeks ago. Our plan is to go beyond Srinagar and build into a permanent, sustainable effort for road safety,” Parsa said.

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