In the name of complying to the Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines, LPG connection holders are being subjected to humiliation, harassment and third degree torture
By M. Ahsan
Ghulam Mohidin Malik lost the battle for a subsidized gas cylinder – and his life too. In quest to submit his Know Your Customer (KYC) form, the 67-year-old retired policeman turned out at the LPG outlet for seven days, collapsed and was declared dead.
Malik of Kani Kadal downtown would leave his home in the morning, spend the day in the queue outside the LPG outlet at Karan Nagar and return home in the evening without filling his form. The LPG outlets would close the counter before his turn would come. And on 15 November as he was just few meters away from the counter, he collapsed. Though the people waiting for their turn immediately took him to the hospital, he was declared brought dead.
“As November 15 was the last day of registration and my father was very perturbed,” his son Shahnawaz Malik said, adding that he left in the morning immediately after the dawn prayers. “In the day, some locals informed us that he has collapsed”.
Like Malik, many consumers have been moving from pillar to post to get their KYC forms completed but are facing lot of hurdles and many have left pursuing their cases for subsidized LPG. Though government had already extended the deadline for registration but it is proving difficult for common consumers.
Unlike the different parts of the country, Kashmir has seen a huge rush of the consumers outside the LPG outlets, to register their connections. In fact J&K High Court had also intervened. Of total 8.4 lakh connections only 50 percent of consumers have been registered under the new scheme. The reason is that Valley has only 43 LPG outlets as against 1500 required as per All India norms. Across the country for every 600 consumers there is one dealer, but in Valley a LPG outlet serves to more than 23000 consumers.
As winter has already set in, the people in Kashmir don’t get LPG even at unsubsidized rates on the pretext that registration process is incomplete. Long queues could be seen at the points where LPG is being distributed. From past two months, the LPG dealers have completely stopped home delivery of LPG across Kashmir. Though government had asked the LPG dealers to restart the home delivery of the gas across the Valley, however on ground the consumers are facing lot of problems.
Malik’s death at the counter has once again highlighted the plight of consumers in the Valley. Shahnawaz blames government for his father’s death. “It is very sad that my father died for registration of a gas connection. It can only happen in Kashmir and nowhere else in the country,’’ he said.
Director Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department, Mushtaq Ahmad regretted over the death of retired police man outside the LPG out let. “It is an unfortunate incident. We have already started home delivery of the gas in the city from Monday and the dealers who will not adhere to the rules will be punished,’’ he said. Malik said that department has initiated many steps to improve the availability of LPG in the Valley.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Asghar Samoon said the gas connect of the deceased person will be transferred to his family. “We have nothing to do with the KYC forms. The guidelines have been issued by the Centre government and the chaos and confusion about the registration is everywhere in the country.’’ Samoon however said that government is very concerned about the consumers. “We are taking many steps so that people will not suffer,’’ he said adding that many more LPG outlets will be opened in the Valley. “Everybody in the administration is concerned about the people who are facing hurdles in registration.’’
However for cumbersome registration, LPG distributors blamed the Oil companies and state government. “We have been pleading for extension of registration dates up to March. Despite, the LPG dealers have employed additional staff they have not been only been able to register half of consumers under KYC scheme,’’ president LPG distributors Association, Jaghmohan Raina said. “It takes 15 minutes to register every consumer and most of the time we don’t have electricity in Kashmir so we face lot of problems. Raina said that they are facing problems in restarting the home delivery. “Once our vehicles go for home delivery, the people throng around our vehicles and at times forcibly snatch the LPG from the vehicles.”
For consumers it is a long wait. ”We are not against the registration, but, unfortunately under the garb of filling of KYC forms LPG dealers are denying us the LPG and depriving us from the home delivery,’’ said Bakthi Begum, a widow who has to wait for hours to get a subsidized gas cylinder despite possessing requisite documents.