The Jammu and Kashmir governor administration Saturday partially relaxed the two-day-a-week restrictions on the movement of civilian traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway which were put in place to facilitate the movement of security forces’ convoys.
Initially, civilian traffic was banned from plying on the stretch twice a week, on Wednesday and Sunday, from 4 am to 5 pm till May 31. The move had drawn widespread condemnation, especially in the Valley with some politicians terming the ban as ‘Tughlaqi Farmaan’ (dictatorial order).
“The restriction on civilian movement between Srinagar and Baramulla on national highway-44 would now be limited only to Sundays with effect from April 22. There would be no prohibition on civilian traffic on Wednesdays,” an official spokesman told PTI.
The administration, in a notification, said that it has been continuously monitoring the movement on the highway and was keen to minimise inconvenience to the public. “The restrictions would continue between Srinagar and Udhampur on NH-44 as earlier. However, these would be reviewed periodically and relaxation would be made as the need for restriction reduces,” the notification read.
It further maintained that a complete review of restrictions on the highway will be done after the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections to examine if it will be continued.
Reacting to the order, former CM Omar Abdullah had said, “Driving to Uri I’m getting to see first-hand the extent of disruption and inconvenience that is being caused to people because of the mindless highway closure order that is in place today.”
The government had cited the recent suicide bombing of a security forces convoy in Pulwama — which killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel — as the reason behind restricting traffic movement. The highway passes through five of the Valley’s 10 districts, and highways to at least two more districts branch out from it. This is the first time in three decades of militancy in Kashmir that the highway has been ordered closed to civilian traffic for two days of the week.