It may be a routine for the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway to remain closed for months on during winter. But apparently politicians in Jammu and Kashmir cannot tolerate the two-day ban of civilian traffic on the high way to facilitate the movement of security forces.
A few days ago, the state administration announced the decision to ban civilian traffic for two days a week – Wednesday and Sunday – until May 31, with allowance made for emergency cases. The decision came over a month after the Pulwama terrorist attack by a suicide Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist, who rammed his explosive-laden civilian vehicle into the convoy carrying CRPF jawans. As the incident left 40 jawans martyred, questions were raised over the wisdom of letting civilian traffic during the movement of troops.
Now, on the first day of the two-day civilian traffic ban on NH No. 44, People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti accused the central government of suppressing Kashmiris. She asked the people to defy the order and go wherever they want.
“This is our state, these are our roads, we have the right to use them whenever we want,” she said. She also vowed to challenge the order in court.
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah too demanded that the ban be withdrawn. His son Omar Abdullah tweeted his “first hand” account of “the extent of disruption & inconvenience” caused by “the mindless highway closure order”.
Incidentally, civilian traffic was not allowed during troop movement on the high way until 2003. The rule was relaxed on the intervention of Mufti Mahmood Syed, father of Mehabooba Mufti, on the pretext of humanitarian touch to the Jammu and Kashmir policy.
Here is a tweet by Mehabooba Mufti: