Highway ban: Normal life affected in valley

Highway ban: Normal life affected in valley
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Srinagar, Apr 10: Normal life was on Wednesday affected in the valley due to suspension of civilian traffic on the Kashmir-Jammu National Highway to allow free and secure movement of security force convoy, paralysing movement of people who were undertaking journey on the road.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court (HC) on Tuesday issued notices to the Union ministries of defence, home affairs and transport, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the state government, directing them to respond to pleas seeking orders to scrap the ban within 10 days.
Meanwhile, reports said that security forces were not restricting its convoy movements on the highway to only Wednesday and Sunday, the two days in a week, the highway from Baramulla to Jammu, has been made off limits for civilian traffic.
The highway wore a deserted look with only security forces, state police and Army personnel deployed in strength to prevent people from moving towards the highway though it is said that security force convoy, which left Jammu, will enter Kashmir only in the afternoon.
However, district authorities have appointed nodal officers to help people to cross the highway at important places.
The government in an order said that civilian traffic will not be allowed on Kashmir-Jammu national highway for two days — Wednesdays and Sundays — in a week for security reasons between 0400 hrs to 1700 hrs, attracting sever criticism from political parties and general public. Only security force convoys will be allowed on these two days.
Officials said that the entire stretch of highway has been divided into different zones and magistrates, along with police, have been placed at every zone of the highway to allow people with medical emergency, government employees, tourists, schools buses and election rallies.
Security forces have closed roads connect the highway from Kashmir to Jammu with other roads with barbed wires to stop civilian vehicles from coming on the national highway, which also connects different districts of the valley with each other. Only security force convoys could be seen plying on the national highway.
“Why is that only students and government employees are allowed on the highway. Is it a crime to work in a private sector? It is not just a national highway, but also a road which connects all the districts of the valley with each other. How can we commute from one district to another district,” Javeed Saleem, a businessman, said.
He said the road is also used to connect different parts of the same district, including Srinagar. “I live in Natipora, but the place I work is on the other side of Nowgam bypass. So this means I can’t go to my work place for two days in a week as I work in private sector,” he said.
Roadside vendors and people, whose shops, including hotels, are along the highway, expressed concern over the ban, claiming that it will badly affect their business. “I have been running a fruit shop at Hyderpora bypass, for many years. But now if I have to close the shop for two days in a week, how can I make both ends meet. The government should revoke the ban on civilian movement,” Shabir Ahmad said.
Similar views were also expressed by workers at ‘Dhabas’ (local restaurants) along the national highway.
A division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan directed the state government and other parties to file their response to the PILs before or by the next date of hearing on April 19.
The notices were issued by the HC while hearing the Public Interest Litigations (PILs) filed by a battery of lawyers representing the petitioners — including bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, National Conference’s Ali Muhammad Sagar, Peoples Democratic Party’s Naeem Akhter and three lawyers — seeking striking down of the ban on the movement of civilian traffic on the Kashmir-Jammu national highway, for two days a week.