As Jammu and Kashmir government closed the Jammu-Srinagar highway to civilians on Sunday, hundreds of security personnel were seen carrying lathis and rifles along the highway and intersections, allowing movement of armed forces convoys only.
The police have designated Wednesday and Sunday as 'convoy days' in which no civilian movement will be allowed.
The Army and paramilitary forces deployed at various check points on the highway were seen checking vehicles, noting down vehicle registration numbers and phone numbers of drivers Saturday night. However, since Sunday morning the security forces are not allowing private vehicles to ply on the road. The security forces have put up barricades including boulders, concertina wire at major intersections.
Kashmir Traffic Police chief Alok Kumar said Sunday and Wednesday have been designated as “convoy days” and no civilian vehicle will be allowed to ply on the highway on these days. This has come a day after the government of Jammu and Kashmir assured relaxation for government employees, school children and emergency services.
As the highway connects different districts of the Valley and has over 100 crossways, people are complaining of harassment. “We were not allowed to take highway to reach Srinagar airport from Baramullla,” says Mohsin Khan, a resident of Baramulla in north Kashmir.
A doctor travelling to South Kashmir said he has taken alternate route through dozens of villages. “There are points where I have to touch the highway. I don’t know what will happen there,” he added.
The highway ban has turned atmosphere in the Valley tense and gloomy.
“The highway ban is now turning into a humanitarian disaster. Flooded with calls from across the state. People in dire need to travel in order to tend to their day to day needs of survival stuck in a state of helplessness. @jandkgovernor urgently needs to scrap the inhuman order,” tweeted Sajad Gani Lone, chairman of People’s Conference.
The highway ban is now turning into a humanitarian disaster. Flooded will calls from across the state. People in dire need to travel in order to tend to their day to day needs of survival stuck in a state of helplessness. @jandkgovernor urgently needs to scrap the inhuman order.— Sajad Lone (@sajadlone) April 7, 2019
The ban order, according to the government, was issued keeping in view the large movement of security forces on the national highway during the parliamentary elections and associated possibility of any fidayeen attack on security forces’ convoys.
According to the order there would be a complete ban on civilian traffic on the national highway during these two days from 4 a.m to 5 p.m. The government order takes recourse in the statement of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who during his visit to Kashmir post Pulwama suicide attack in February, had announced that no civilian traffic movement would be allowed during the convoy days.
Meanwhile, on social networking sites the government order is being drawn parallel with the Polish government order during German occupation of Poland in December 1939 that prohibited Jews from entering or using pathways, streets and public squares from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The Polish government order has gone viral on social media networks in Jammu and Kashmir.
On Saturday evening a groom stuck at the Banihal on the highway had to get written permission from the District Magistrate Anantnag to proceed towards Doda district of Jammu.
Kashmiris now need to seek permission to use roads that rightfully belong to them & pay taxes for.Seems like GoIs plan is to reduce us to second class citizens in our own territory. The valley’s story has all the elements of a Greek tragedy. pic.twitter.com/wdUurFh37Y— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) April 6, 2019
“Kashmiris now need to seek permission to use roads that rightfully belong to them & pay taxes for. Seems like GoIs plan is to reduce us to second class citizens in our own territory. The valley’s story has all the elements of a Greek tragedy,” Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister and PDP president, posted on Twitter.