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Protests over ban on civilian traffic on Jammu-Srinagar highway
April 5, 2019
SRINAGAR: Activists in Jammu and Kashmir held a protest here on Friday against the Government order restricting civilian traffic movement on the national highway twice a week. Shouting slogans, the protestors assembled at Press Enclave here, holding placards that read, “Why to snatch right to travel from Kashmiris”.

The protesters said the traffic restriction will adversely affect education, economy and tourism. They demanded an alternative arrangement.

Following the Pulwama terror attack and the air strikes by Indian and Pakistani air forces, in each other's space, the Indian Government on Wednesday decided to close the Jammu-Srinagar highway to the civilians for two days a week to facilitate smooth and secure transit of military and paramilitary forces through the State especially as parliamentary elections have been scheduled. On Sundays and Wednesdays the highway will be used exclusively by the forces.

A Government notification on Wednesday had stated that the national highway from Baramulla to Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir will be closed for civilian traffic twice a week. The order was implemented with immediate effect. The restriction will remain till May 31. On these two days during the period no civilian vehicles will be permitted on the national highway from 4 am to 5 pm.

The notification said the ban relates to Baramulla to Udhampur through Srinagar, Qazigund, Jawahar-Tunnel, Banihal and Ramban. The authorities will need to be approached for permission in case of emergencies.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said it is a "proof" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's failure to manage the internal security of Jammu and Kashmir.

Omar tweeted, "Another 1st for the Modi government after the 1st ever delayed assembly election now this shocker - never before in 30 years has the national highway ever been closed for civilian traffic like this...It's a glaring admission of failure to manage the internal security of J&K."

A convoy of 70 CRPF vehicles carrying jawans from Jammu to Srinagar for re-deployment was attacked by a terrorist with a car bomb at Pulwama killing 40 personnel on February 14. In retaliation, the Indian forces struck and demolished terrorist camps deep inside Pakistan and thereafter there was a dogfight between the air forces of India and Pakistan across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing an election rally in Rafiabadin in Kashmir's Baramullah district on Friday, Omar said the highway closure was a direct consequence of the PDP's tie-up with the BJP.

The National Conference leader wanted the immediate revocation of the order. "The embrace of PDP with BJP wreaked havoc on the security situation in the state. It is for the first time in history that highways are being closed for civilian traffic for two days," the former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said.

Former J&K chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government should devise a ‘people friendly strategy’. “Security of the forces is paramount but at the same time traffic between Kashmir and Jammu is equally important. I think the government should have found a solution like half day usage of road for both instead of completely shutting it down for two days in a week,” Azad said.

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