Partially easing the twice-a-week ban on civilian traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, the Jammu and Kashmir government Saturday announced that traffic along the Srinagar-Baramulla stretch will be restricted only on Sundays. The restrictions will remain in force on Wednesdays and Sundays on the stretch between Srinagar and Udhampur.
The move comes almost two weeks after the J&K government, on April 7, imposed the restrictions on the NH-44 in the wake of the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel travelling in a convoy were killed by a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber. The move had drawn sharp criticism in the Valley, particularly from mainstream political parties like the National Conference and PDP.
A spokesperson for the J&K government said: “The restriction on movement of civilian traffic between Srinagar and Baramulla on NH-44 would now be limited only to Sunday with effect from April 22…there would be no prohibition on civilian traffic on Wednesday.”
“These will be reviewed periodically and relaxation would be made as the need for such restrictions reduces.”
The decision was taken after a review of the needs of security forces, particularly after successful polling in Baramulla and Jammu in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections on April 11 and then in Srinagar and Kathua during the second phase on April 18. “As the requirement of security forces is now reducing as they are de-inducted, the government has decided to partially relax the restrictions on traffic imposed earlier,” said the spokesperson.
According to the government, the ban was for only two days a week from 4 am to 5 pm, which amounted “to only 15 per cent of the total time in a week”. “There has been a large movement of security forces on an unprecedented scale after the Pulwama terror attack. These forces were required both for anti-militancy operations and for conducting general elections peacefully,” said the spokesperson.
The spokesperson said that the local administration and police will also examine the possibility of allowing J&K State Roadways Transport Corporation buses to ply during the restricted periods even on convoy days.
Meanwhile, the state government has also decided to issue special vehicle passes to pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Paranpilla in Uri on April 21 on the occasion of Baisakhi.