Manali: The administrative magistrate here having evoked Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) that empowers him to prohibit unlawful assembly of more than four people in the tourist township of Manali has caused distrust about the prevailing law and order situation among tourists visiting the valley and hit the hospitality industry hard at a time when the summer season is peaking and there is a rush of visitors queued to visit the popular place.
Agitating taxi drivers had caused a massive traffic jam on Monday (5.6.2017) that forced the administration to impose Section 144 in and around the township.
The union of taxi drivers were protesting against the online booking of permits about sightseeing passes for Rohtang Pass and blacklisting of about 1500 vehicles, debarring them from ferrying tourists to the pass.
Raj Kumar Dogra, president of Himachali taxi union said, “the administration has been giving us false assurances only to please political personalities.”
Long queues of vehicles and traffic jams were witnessed. Traffic on Manali-Chandigarh, Manali-Rohtang and Manali-Kullu highway had come to a complete halt and tourist had a hard time to reach their respective hotels.
The Manali magistrate HRBarwa, speaking to Hill Post said, “Section 144 had been imposed to prevent any untoward in Manali.
The disturbed law and order situation has caused much anxiety among tourists who are booked for holidays in the valley.
Gajinder Thakur, president Hotel Association of Manali said, “After imposition of Section 144, we are receiving many phone calls from tourists enquiring about the situation in Manali. We fear that they may cancel their travel plans and cause mass cancellations of hotel booking.”
Gajinder claimed that there was no untoward incident witnessed in the town and there was need to impose Section 144.”The taxi union was only seeking their rights in a peaceful manner,” he said.
Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice.
He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express.
With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology.
Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.