Petrol pumps in Kashmir for kin of dead cops
25 August 2006
Indo-Asian News Service
Kathua (Jammu): Petrol pumps are to come up all over Jammu and Kashmir with family members of policemen who died fighting separatists getting employment in them.Around 5,000 security personnel have lost their lives in the 16 years of militancy in the state. Among them almost a thousand are from Jammu and Kashmir Police, a Muslim-majority force.The state has a provision to give government jobs to one of the family members of slain police personnel. 'But the government is unable to adjust everyone under this provision due to reasons like age and educational qualification,' said Shesh Pal Vaid, inspector general of police, Jammu zone. 'But we can provide jobs to such people in petrol pumps,' he added. Employees earn Rs.1,800-2,000 a month. At one such pump in Kathua town, 100 km south of Jammu, all the employees are orphans or close relatives of policemen killed in action.'This is a big help for my family and me,' said Jagdish Kumar, 20, who lost his father fighting militants in Jammu and Kashmir four years ago. There are 12 such employees here.The police used to raise funds for welfare schemes through fairs earlier. It has to spend over Rs.2.5 million approximately on such families annually. The petrol pump at Kathua makes a profit of about Rs.50,000 a month. The police are naturally happy.'We can also think of other welfare measures like the education of the dead policemen or contributing to the marriages of their daughters or even helping to get the kin self-employment schemes,' Vaid said.The state-owned Bharat Petroleum has already set up petrol pumps for the police and is willing to do more. Vaid said the Kathua pump was doing better business compared to other stations 'because we are committed to give the purest form of fuel to customers'. Customers agree. Said Subhash Chander Gupta, a property dealer: 'My scooter now gives better mileage after I started buying fuel from this pump.'