Outrage across Kashmir Valley over banning​ civilian traffic on the ​highway

  • Response in the form of a “joint line of action” will be worked out very soon: Syed Ali Geelani 
  • Highway closure order ‘dictatorial’, govt should withdraw it, says Mirwaiz
  • Govt should formulate a people friendly strategy, says Azad
  • Omar Abdullah asks governor to review civilian traffic ban order
  • Civilian traffic ban on highway ‘unjust, uncalled’ for: Monga
  • Traffic ban tantamount to intrusion on civil liberties: Altaf Bukhari
  • Disallowing civilian traffic during convoy movement will prove disaster for economy: KCCI
  • Highway open even during Kargil War, rights of people being tampered with: Farooq
  • Highway decision taken in haste, must be revoked: G A Mir
  • Mushtaq Chaya demands revocation of highway traffic ban order
  • Another Ploy To Harass Kashmiris: Kashmir high court bar association

Syed Ali Geelani 
The Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani Thursday strongly condemned the ban on movement of civilian vehicles on Jammu-Srinagar highway for two days in a week from 4am to 5pm and allowing movement of convoys only for these days.

In a statement, Geelani said that a response in the form of a “joint line of action” will be worked out very soon after consultations and discussions with all forums concerned.
“After creating graveyards in the state, the rulers in Delhi very brazenly are trying to strangulate the common people which can have catastrophic ramifications,” he said.

The statement said: “The Indian ruling class should bear in mind that Jammu and Kashmir is not their property and its people are not their slaves and whenever and whatever they want, they will be free to do so”.
“The roads are a means of connectivity and are of prime importance in some desperate and emergency situations. Curtailing and banning such a basic and fundamental lifeline is tantamount to gross and unforgivable crime against hapless population,” the statement read.

“It is better that they close down all educational institutions, healthcare system, offices, universities and seal the residences so that only their armed forces can roam around. The world’s worst dictators may also not have done such inhuman actions,” the statement read.
“It is unfortunate and ironic that permanent residents of this state need to take permission from outsiders to use their own land. Caging the entire population in their houses to facilitate the smooth and uninterrupted forces’ movement is not only shameful but a gross violation of one’s basic and fundamental rights,” the statement said.

“We appeal to human rights bodies, peace-loving people, particularly Indian intelligentsia and conscious citizens, to come forward and rescue this caged and brutalised nation and help them to ease the strangulating grip of the forced control (sic),” the statement read.

Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq
Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Thursday asked the government of Jammu and Kashmir to withdraw the order of closing down the Kashmir highway for two days in a week.
“Another anti-people dictatorial move of the government to close the national highway for two days which will cause great distress to people. Government should withdraw this diktat and stop punishing people of Kashmir,” Mirwaiz said in a tweet.

Jammu and Kashmir government Wednesday announced that there shall be no movement of civilian traffic on the highway from Udhampur in Jammu till Baramulla in north Kashmir for two days every week to facilitate movement of forces for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
The closure of the highway has drawn severe criticism for all sections of the society.

Farooq Abdullah
The Jammu-Kashmir highway was not closed even during the Kargil war when intelligence reports suggested suicide attackers were at large, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah said on Thursday, a day after the government decided to block the road lifeline for two days a week.
“What is happening for god’s sake. Are you trying to make Kashmir a colony of the British?” an anguished Abdullah asked and termed the Governor Satya Pal Malik led administration’s decision interference with a citizen’s fundamental rights.

According to the order issued on Wednesday by state Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra, no civilian traffic will be allowed to move from Baramulla in north Kashmir to Udhampur in Jammu region on Sundays and Wednesdays till May 31.

The restrictions on civilian traffic on the 271-km highway will remain in force from 4 am to 5 pm, said the order, which follows the suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama. The highway passes through important towns such as Anantnag, Awantipora, Pampore, Srinagar, Pattan and Baramulla.
“The fundamental rights of people are being tampered with,” Abdullah told PTI.
Such a decision flies in the face of the BJP-led Central government’s assertion that the security situation in the state had improved, he said.
“We brought the state from the 1989 turmoil to 2014 when tourism was booming the state and separatists had become redundant. Look where we are now?” asked the National Conference patron, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Srinagar.

“We have never seen such a situation. Even during Kargil war when intelligence reports suggested suicide attackers were roaming, such a decision was never taken,” he added.
Those who had passed such orders were acting as a rubber stamp for Delhi and only worsening the life of the people in the state, Abdullah alleged.
“The highway is the lifeline of people. Patients pass (through the highway), marriages take place, tourists come… Those passing such orders must have surrendered their ability to think before acting,” he said.

The decision to block the highway for two days has been taken to facilitate the unhindered movement of government forces’ convoys to eliminate the possibility of fidayeen attacks during the ongoing poll process, the notification said.

In case of an emergency requiring the passage of a civilian vehicle, police and administrative officials will take appropriate decisions in line with the provisions for movement of civilian traffic during curfews, it added.
Officials said the notification took the state police by surprise and, till the last, it was being argued that the decision would not be beneficial for the state.

Ghulam Nabi Azad
Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Congress general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday said that the government should come-up with a people friendly strategy to ensure both safety of troops and hassle free movement of civilians on Jammu-Srinagar Highway.
“Security of the forces is paramount but at the same time traffic between Kashmir and Jammu is equally important. I think the government should have found a solution like half day usage of road for both instead of completely shutting it down for two days in a week,” Azad said.

He said that stopping traffic for two days looks difficult to manage because there will be lot of hue and cry.
Jammu and Kashmir government Wednesday announced that there shall be no movement of civilian traffic on the highway from Udhampur in Jammu till Baramulla in north Kashmir for two days every week to facilitate movement of forces for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Omar Abdullah
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday appealed to governor Satya Pal Malik to review the order banning civilian traffic for two days on the Kashmir highway.
The government Wednesday announced that there shall be no movement of civilian traffic on the highway from Udhampur in Jammu till Baramulla in north Kashmir for two days every week to facilitate movement of forces for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Addressing a gathering in Rafiabad area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, Omar appealed the governor to review the ban.
He said that the movement of security forces could be managed through train between Baramulla and Banihal.

Omar also targeted the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the ban indicated how grave situation was in the state.
He said during the three decades of militancy in the state they never felt like taking such measures despite a very bad situation.

Ghulam Nabi Monga
Congress state unit Vice President Ghulam Nabi Monga Thursday termed the government’s decision to disallowed civilian traffic on national highway on two days in a week as “unjust and uncalled” for.

Addressing a press conference here, Monga said that the decision would only add to the problems of the common people and the government should revisit the decision.
On Wednesday Government banned civilian traffic movement on the highway from Baramulla to Jammu on two days in a week (Sunday and Wednesday) for smooth and safe passage of security convoys.

Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari
Former finance minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Thursday demanded immediate revocation of closing the Srinagar-Jammu highway for two days a week.
Bukhari said that prohibiting civilian traffic tantamount to confining people of the state to their homes without any reasonable justification.

“Government wants to enforce curfew for two days a week without bothering for the miseries it can cause to people,” Bukhari said.

He said that the forces must adopt other means of hassle free convoy movement without putting the people to immense inconvenience.

The government on Wednesday announced that there shall be no movement of civilian traffic on the highway from Udhampur in Jammu till Baramulla in north Kashmir for two days every week to facilitate movement of forces for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

KCCI President Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Thursday termed the banning of civilian traffic on Jammu-Srinagar highway during convoys for two days as a disaster for Valley’s economy.

Addressing the presser, KCCI President Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad said banning civilian movement on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway is an unprecedented move and can be disastrous for the economy of Kashmir valley.

G.A. Mir
Prohibiting traffic movement on Jammu-Srinagar highway from Baramulla for two days in a week is a hasty which must be revoked in the larger interest of the people, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President G.A. Mir said on Thursday.

He said prohibiting civilian movement on the highway twice in a week will create a chaotic situation for the civilians and described the prohibition order as surprising and taken without reviewing the problems which will confront the people.
“The Govt has taken the decision in haste that will prove to be perilous to the civilians, so I emphasize the Govt to revoke the prohibition order forthwith in the larger interest of common people,” he added.

Mushtaq Chaya
Prominent Kashmir businessman and hotelier Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya on Thursday demanded the immediate revocation of the government order banning the movement of civilian traffic for two days every week on the Kashmir highway.

In a statement, Chaya wondered how the government could issue such an order which curtails the fundamental rights of the people in Kashmir. “How could the government issue such an unreasonable order?” asked Chaya, who is chairman PHDCCI Kashmir and hoteliers’ club.

Chaya said the ban will not only cut the valley from rest of the world but also bring untold miseries to the local populace which is already under so much distress.
“On one hand they are talking about bringing tourists to the Kashmir valley and the other they are passing such ‘Israeli-style’ orders,” rued Chaya. “What is the message that the government wants to convey?”

Chaya said that a delegation of tourism stakeholders are visiting the valley in next few days to take stock of the situation. “What will they make out of the situation here when you block the roads for the civilian traffic?” he asked.

Appealing the government to immediately withdraw the order, Chaya asked the authorities to look for an alternative arrangement for the movement of forces’ personnel.

According to the order issued on Wednesday by state Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra, no civilian traffic will be allowed to move from Baramulla in north Kashmir to Udhampur in Jammu region on Sundays and Wednesdays till May 31.

The restrictions on civilian traffic on the 271-km highway will remain in force from 4 am to 5 pm, said the order, which follows the suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama. The highway passes through important towns such as Anantnag, Awantipora, Pampore, Srinagar, Pattan and Baramulla.

Another Ploy To Harass Kashmiris: Kashmir high court bar association
The Kashmir high court bar association (HCBA) Thursday strongly condemned banning of civilian traffic for two days a week on the Srinagar-Jammu highway for smooth movement of forces’ convoys, terming the move as “another ploy of teasing and harassing the people of Kashmir and invading into their right to life and liberty.”

The right to liberty, a spokesman of the HCBA said in a statement, “encompasses within its fold, the right to move and travel to any destination and to carry on any trade or business to earn livelihood”.
“The right to move and travel are part of personal liberty and consist in the power of locomotion, of changing direction or moving one’s person to whatever place, one’s own inclination may desire (sic),” the HCBA statement read. “Restrictions on movement on roads leading to courts, educational institutions, hospitals etc. which cause serious hardships and inconvenience to students, lawyers, litigants and people from all walks of life, have been held to be unreasonable and irrational and have been struck down by the courts in the past. And applying the same test to the notification issued by the state government banning civilian traffic on Srinagar-Jammu highway, for two days in a week, it is also liable to be struck down”.

The HCBA reiterates that the freedom of movement and travel at home and abroad is not only important for securing employment in any part of the world but is also essential for education, trade and also for cultural, political and social activities, the statement read, adding: “In an interdependent world, requiring for its future peace and progress and an overgrowing international understanding, it is but desirable to facilitate individual contacts between people and remove all unjustifiable restrictions on their movement and travel, which may hamper such contacts”.
“However, by issuing the notification of banning civilian traffic on Srinagar-Jammu highway, for two days in a week, all the aforesaid rights and guarantees are bound to get defeated, which in a democratic world of today, is not permissible,” the statement read.