Troop movement: Outrage in J&K over highway closure

Srinagar: Two former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have slammed the Centre’s decision to curb civilian traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar highway to secure convoy movement.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) President Mufti and National Conference chief Abdullah said on Thursday that the government had not applied its mind before issuing the closure order or bothered to think about the people of Kashmir.

The state government on Wednesday had announced that no civilian traffic will be allowed on the Jammu-Srinagar highway on Sundays and Wednesdays from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. to ensure the safety of the security convoys.

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The restrictions will remain in force till May 31.

Both former Chief Ministers were reacting to the order — a decision taken in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack on the same road that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers.

“GoI’s current approach towards Kashmir has been consistent only when it comes to repression. Suffocate Kashmiris, throw them in jails, deprive them of basic rights and make them suffer.

“They only want Kashmir. Don’t give two hoots about what happens to its people (sic),” Mufti tweeted.

Abdullah, too in a series of tweets slammed the diktat: “Has anyone in the administration applied their minds before planning to issue this highway closure order?

“Jammu and Kashmir 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.”

“I’ve made this suggestion before and in light of today’s highway closure order I feel the need to repeat it — why can’t the forces travel between Banihal and Baramulla by special trains? Quicker, safer and more comfortable for the security forces.”

The decision was also criticised by senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq who called the decision “dictatorial”.

Another former Chief Minister and Congress Rajya Sabha leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government “should work out a more people-friendly strategy than disallowing all civilian traffic for two days in a week”.

Former IAS officer-turned-politician, Shah Faesal tweeted: “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?”

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has warned the state government that the decision would have disastrous consequences.


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