The Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday issued a notification which stated that the 270km Jammu-Srinagar National Highway will be out of bounds for civilian vehicular traffic for two days every week till May 31. The directive comes after the Pulwama terror attack in which a convoy of vehicles carrying CRPF personnel was attacked on the highway by a suicide bomber.
Post the terror attack, a series of measures have been announced by the Union Home Ministry to ensure security to the paramilitary convoys that ply on the highway.
The Pulwama attack, carried out by suicide bomber Adil Dar, had triggered a debate on the lapses in security along the integral road especially during the movement of convoys. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his J&K visit post-Pulwama attack, had said that the loopholes would be addressed and that civilian traffic would be shut during the movement of convoys ferrying security personnel on the highway.
The latest measure is being seen as an extra precaution being undertaken especially when J&K is heading for Lok Sabha as well as state legislative Assembly elections.
How will civilians suffer due to traffic shutdown?
The J&K National Highway is the only road link of the Kashmir valley to the rest of the country where thousands of passengers travel on a daily basis from valley to the outside. The highway which is already in poor infrastructural shape also faces frequent closures during extreme winter months when it is hit by snow avalanches.
The frequent shutdowns will also hit the students, businessmen, passenger vehicle drivers and patients who opt to travel on the important road link. As such, the closure of the highway for two days a week is seen as a harsh measure.
Senior political leaders in J&K and civil society have come down heavily on the J&K administration calling the directive an unnecessary brutal measure.
Has anyone in the administration applied their minds before planning to issue this highway closure order? J&K is not Chhattisgarh or Andhra Pradesh where there are alternate routes. Here if you close the national highway you shut down all access to the valley. This is a lifeline.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) April 3, 2019
Last I checked, we were a democracy. But this sounds like a diktat of Martial Law.After bringing Kashmir to the brink, the administration is adamant on ensuring collective punishment for Kashmiris. https://t.co/8RbNYnH0CT — Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) April 3, 2019
Policies imported from Israel will turn Kashmir into Palestine.
The decision to close national highway to civilian traffic on every Wednesday and Sunday is extremely shocking.@RajnathSingh_in how will the employees attend office? How will patients travel? School children? https://t.co/vlceRLFFab
— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) April 3, 2019