JK politicians question civilian traffic ban on highway

Former IAS officer Shah Faesal, who resigned from the service earlier this year, to launch his own party “Jammu and Kashmir People's Movement” said that in last 30 years for the first time the national highway was closed for civilian movement for the annual yatra.

The decision of Jammu and Kashmir government to ban civilian traffic movement for five hours daily on a 97-km stretch from Qazigund to Nashri on the national highway for 46-days during Amarnath yatra has sparked a fresh row in the insurgency-hit Himalayan state.

On Tuesday, the Northern Railways also decided to suspend train services between Qazigund and Banihal from 10 am to 3 pm, starting July 3 till completion of ongoing Amarnath Yatra. Politicians and people have questioned the decision saying it will create hurdles for locals.

Former IAS officer Shah Faesal, who resigned from the service earlier this year, to launch his own party “Jammu and Kashmir People's Movement” said that in last 30 years for the first time the national highway was closed for civilian movement for the annual yatra.

“First time in last 30 years SXR-JMU NH was closed to civilian traffic during elections. Now closed again for Yatra. Those signing orders to stop movement of locals must remembr that there wl b a day of reckoning. We welcome Yatris to land of Shiva. But this curfew must end (sic),” he tweeted.

Regional National Conference (NC) general secretary and former minister while decrying the restrictions said the measure is “regressive and will put the people to undue duress.”

While calling for an early revocation of the reckless diktat, he said, “The frequent restrictions on the sole national highway connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country on one pretext or the other causes unimaginable loses to the business community apart from severe inconvenience to the general public including patients and students.”

CPM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami while demanding the review of the order said, “No doubt security of Amarnath pilgrims is important and the decision must have been taken by the Government as a security issue. But why should be the issues of patients, students, employees, businessmen, and others who will suffer hugely due to this order left unattended?”

The Kashmir High Court Bar Association in a statement described the ban unjustified and unwarranted and sought its immediate removal. “It is going to cause unnecessary restrictions to the civilians travelling from Srinagar to Jammu and vice-versa,” the statement said.

A similar ban was imposed on civilian traffic from early April along the national highway between Baramulla in Kashmir and Udhampur in Jammu for two days a week to ensure safe movement of security convoys during the parliamentary elections. The ban was ordered following the February 14 car bomb blast along the highway in Pulwama in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers were killed.

The ban triggered protests and was eased later before it was completely lifted on May 21.

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