Kashmir highway to be closed for civilian traffic

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh during his visit to Srinagar on February 15 had sought people’s cooperation in halting movement of civilian vehicles while the forces’ convoys move along the highways. ANI file photo

Jammu and Kashmir government announced on Wednesday that no civilian traffic would be allowed to ply on the national highway from Baramulla till Udhampur for two days every week. This comes in the backdrop of deadly car bomb attack that took place on February 14 on a CRPF convoy in south Kashmir’s Pulwama.

“Keeping in view the large movement of Security Forces on the national highway during the Parliamentary Elections and associated possibility of any fidayeen (suicide) terror attack on convoys, no civilian traffic would be allowed on national highway on Sundays and Wednesdays,” an official spokesperson said.

“There would be a complete ban on civilian traffic on the Highway during these two days from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. This prohibition would be from Baramulla through Srinagar, Qazigund, Jawahar-Tunnel, Banihal and Ramban till Udhampur in Jammu,” he added.

The government has further decided that in the event of any requirement for local traffic movement for any emergency or for other purpose, the local administration and police would evolve necessary procedures for this as is done during curfew days. These restrictions would remain in force till 31 May, 2019.

Pertinently, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh during his visit to Srinagar on February 15 had sought people’s cooperation in halting movement of civilian vehicles while the forces’ convoys move along the highways.

“From now onwards, during convoy movement civilian vehicles would be stopped till forces’ cavalcades pass off smoothly. Here people have to bear with us as this will cause a bit of inconvenience to them and I regret that,” Rajnath told the media here after chairing a high-level security meet.

During 1990s when the militancy was at its peak, the movement of vehicles was restricted when security convoys moved. They were lifted after a government led by the Peoples’ Democratic Party took office in 2002, promising a “healing touch” for the conflict-torn population. The fresh restrictions could increase public resentment against the security forces.

Adil Ahmad Dar, a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant from Pulwama in south Kashmir had rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a bus carrying troops of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), killing over 40 paramilitary men on February 14.

On March 30, another fidayeen attack took place on a security force convoy at Banihal on the highway.

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