Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti Denounce Jammu-Srinagar Highway Ban
Photo used for representation.
Photo used for representation.(Photo Courtesy: Aijaz Dar)

Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti Denounce Jammu-Srinagar Highway Ban

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti lashed out at the two-days-a-week closure of the Jammu -Srinagar Kashmir highway.

Abdullah called the closure ‘mindless’ that is causing inconvenience to the people.

Mehbooba Mufti allleged that this is the government’s move to suppress Kashmiris. She urged people to not accept the ban and said that she will approach the court against it.

“This is wrong. We would like to tell the govt that you can’t suppress Kashmiris like this. This is our state, these are our roads, we have the right to use them whenever we want. You saw that the students are facing a lot of problem due to it. I urge people not to accept the ban. We will approach the court against this ban.”
Mehbooba Mufti, PDP Leader

Ban Came Into Force on Sunday, 7 April

The two-days-per-week ban on movement of civilian vehicles on Jammu-Srinagar-Baramulla national highway for facilitating the safe passage of security convoys, came into effect on Sunday, 7 April.

Army, police and CRPF personnel were deployed at all intersections leading to the highway to ensure that civilian traffic does not interfere with movement of convoys of security forces, officials said, reported PTI.

The ban on civilian traffic on Sundays and Wednesdays will be in force till 31 May.

The ban will be in place from Udhampur to Baramulla via Srinagar. The road from Srinagar to Baramulla and Srinagar to Qazigund is crawling with security personnel on patrol, with Army vehicles stationed at strategic points, reported The Indian Express. No civilian vehicle is allowed to stop or even slow down.

A government notification said if an emergency arises and a civilian vehicle needs to use the passage, the police and administrative officials will take decisions in accordance with the provisions of movement of civilian traffic during curfews.

Also Read : Study Group to Suggest Security Upgrade of Jammu-Srinagar Highway

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan said the ban is for the public’s good. “Due to elections, the troop movement is more. To avoid inconvenience to people as they have to wait two-three hours at crossings, it was thought that most troops would be moved during the two days of the week, and the other days, traffic can ply normally”, he told The Indian Express.

An official spokesman said the ban was imposed in view of large number of security personnel being moved around for election duty in the state, reported PTI.

Committed to Ensure Least Inconvenience to Civilian Traffic: J&K Administration

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has sought the cooperation of the people in the smooth regulation of traffic along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, saying it was "committed" to ensure least inconvenience to civilian vehicles during movement of security convoys on the notified days.

The elaborate arrangements made by administration for convenience of the people on the highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, during the restricted travel period was quite successful on the first day of the traffic prohibition, an official release said.

Effect of the Ban

Mohammed Aklaq, a shopkeeper, told India Today TV that he and the other shopkeepers are "on the verge of losing business" due to the ban. He added that they could have to shut their shops because of lack of business, the report said.

Trade bodies are also worried about how the ban would affect business, since there is no other means of transport.

Sadaf Fayaz, a student of Class 6, is worried about how she would get to her school at Patalbagh. Since the authorities dug up a road connecting her village to the National Highway, Sadaf’s school, that used to be 1.5 km away, requires travel of 8 km. If not allowed on the highway, Sadaf will not be able to reach school, reported The Indian Express.

Her father Fayaz Ahmad is worried about the hike in bus transport fees. “I used to pay Rs 500 a month. Now, they are asking for Rs 1,300.”

Over a dozen colleges and many government and private schools are considering staying shut on ban days, according to the report. There are also some hospitals on the highway. Zubair Ahmad, a resident of Sopore, asked The Indian Express, “Where are our human rights? If somebody falls ill along the highway, where would he go?”

Also Read : People-Unfriendly Move: Omar Abdullah on J&K Highway Restrictions

(With inputs from PTI, The Indian Express and India Today.)

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