Jammu-Srinagar highway ban brings life to a halt, politicians dub it ‘Humanitarian Disaster’

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said her party would not allow Kashmir to be turned into an "open air prison"

Prime News, Nation, (Srinagar), April 8:-Ghulam Mohammad Bhat started off from his home here to reach a hospital where his daughter is admitted, but could not find any means of transport to get there due to the ban on civilian traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar highway.

“I have been walking for the past 15 minutes, but there is no public transport in sight. I have to reach JVC hospital (SKIMS Medical College and Hospital, Bemina), where my daughter is admitted,” Bhat said near Tengpora bridge as he braced himself for another hour of walk.

The governor’s administration has ordered the closure of the Jammu-Srinagar-Baramulla highway for all kinds of civilian traffic from Udhampur to Baramulla on every Sunday and Wednesday in order to facilitate movement of large number of security forces for election duty.

Concertina wires and barricades have been put on roads connecting the highway in order to prevent the movement of civilian vehicles.

The Army, police and CRPF personnel have been deployed in strength to ensure that the ban in implemented in letter and spirit.

However, the scale of inconvenience caused by the ban order has just started to come to the fore as dozens of people can be seen at each intersection, pleading the security forces to allow them to cross to the other side of the highway.

There were people who had patients in the vehicles and wanted to take them to hospitals or parents accompanying their children on way to tuition ahead of the various competitive exams due next month.

A groom from Anantnag district, who got married in Doda district on other side of the Jawahar Tunnel, had to obtain permission from the authorities concerned to take his wedding entourage to the bride’s home.

Politicians were quick to lambast the ban order, with former chief minister Omar Abdullah terming it mindless.

“Driving to Uri I’m getting to see first hand the extent of disruption and inconvenience that is being caused to people because of the mindless highway closure order that is in place today,” Abdullah wrote on Twitter.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said her party would not allow Kashmir to be turned into an “open air prison”.

“This is Kashmir, not Palestine. We won’t allow you to turn our beloved land into an open air prison. ‘Jis Kashmir ko khoon say seencha, woh Kashmir humara hai’ (The Kahmir we have nourished by our blood, is ours),” Mufti wrote on Twitter.

Protested against Guv admins callous & absurd ban today. How can you restrict civilian movement on our main highway? You want to smother Kashmiris, change the demographics of the state & imprison them in their own land? Over my dead body.

Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone said the highway ban was turning into a “humanitarian disaster”.

“Flooded will (with) calls from across the state. People in dire need to travel in order to tend to their day to day needs of survival stuck in a state of helplessness. @jandkgovernor urgently needs to scrap the inhuman order,” Lone tweeted.

Several PDP leaders, led by former MLA Sonawar Mohammad Ashraf Mir, tried to defy the ban order by travelling on the highway, but were stopped by police at the Athwajan crossing.

“People are being harassed…. This is terrorism by the governor’s administration to ban movement of people two days every week,” Mir told reporters.

-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)

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