People irked over ‘Ban’ on night movement on Highway

People irked over ‘Ban’ on night movement on HighwayThe decision of security forces to “disallow” night traffic on the Srinagar-Baramulla national highway for the past three days has triggered anger among people, especially fruit growers.
While District Magistrate, Baramulla, Naseer Ahmed Naqash said no night curfew order was issued by him, commuters travelling on the highway and other routes accuse the Army and the police of not allowing them to travel during the night, saying the forces take the excuse of night curfew.
“The Army does not allow any movement on the highway after 9 pm,” said Suhail Ahmed, a resident of Baramulla. “The Army, which has erected barricades at various points on the highway, clearly told us that due to night curfew, they will not allow them to proceed.” he said.
Since the unrest in the Valley, people had been travelling during nights to avoid stone-throwing that has almost halted the traffic movement on the highway during the day.
In fact, the Army has also been moving its convoys during the night on the critical highway following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Recently, the government decided to restore the highway, with the Army offering to help the government in securing the road link.
While confirming the decision to halt the night traffic, a senior government official said the move was aimed at “countering” the separatists’ programmes in north Kashmir and push locals to travel during the day.
However, the Baramulla District Magistrate feigned ignorance about the night curfew. “There are no written orders from me for night curfew. They (security forces) must be doing it for security reasons for checking the vehicles,” the DM said. “As such, there is no restriction on the civilian movement on the highway and is open 24×7 and we are taking measures to provide security,” he said.
The Army also denies any such restrictions. “There is no such night restriction on the highway,” said Srinagar-based defence spokesman Col NN Joshi.Residents of Baramulla, Sopore and Kupwara said the Army and the administration were hiding facts and restrictions on night movement had caused them hardships.
The curbs on night movement have severely hit the fruit growers who were dispatching their truckloads of fruit outside the state.
“The fruit-laden trucks are not allowed to enter or leave Sopore during the night for past two days as security forces block all roads,” said Firdous Ahmed, affairs secretary, Sopore fruit mandi. “Because of the unrest, we used to dispatch at least 50 trucks during the night outside the state, but the restrictions have halted the movement. We are not able to move trucks during the day due to protests.”
Another fruit grower said the government had termed the industry as a backbone, but it seemed the whole system was messed up. “The halting of night traffic shows that the government machinery is in a mess,” said a fruit grower.