Highway closure- A dead end
The buzz in the valley is that in order to facilitate free movement of troopers on the Baramulla-Srinagar-Jammu stretch of the National Highway the state authorities after due consultation with the centre have decided to impose a blanket ban on civilian vehicles for two days of the week viz, Wednesday and Sunday. It normally appears surreal but in a conflict zone there is a thin line between the surreal and the real.
Two days — Sunday and Wednesday — would be designated for exclusive movement of security forces’ convoys.
So from here onwards the Udhampur-Baramulla stretch of the highway would be a no-go zone for civilian vehicles on Wednesday and Sunday from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is a complete infringement on the right of free movement of civilians and violates their basic right to live with dignity. While the mainstream politicians have in unison opposed this move, the business community also has opposed the move as has the civilian society. While it remains to be seen whether the reaction of the separatist camp would be just through a press conference.
The questions that remain unanswered here are: How will government employees reach offices on Wednesday? How will emergency patients reach hospitals? How will women in serious labor pain seek permission from the district magistrate seven days ahead of their scheduled delivery? And what about the tourists who plan to visit Gulmarg and Pahalgam on these two days? Who was consulted before this order was passed?
Yes, we heard that Div Com Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan has said that patients, students, tourists and other emergency will be allowed to move after scrutiny. But what about those college, school going students who travel by local transport?
The newly launched Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement has referred to the move as barbaric and inhuman. The National Conference has been equally vociferous in criticizing the move. The PDP and PC have equally vocal in opposing the move. So this decision has completely alienated the mainstream politicians in Kashmir.
A badly taken decision this may as well justify the moniker of “World’s largest jail” given to Kashmir by some sections of the western media. Kashmir has already seen so much of violence. This move of the establishment will alienate Kashmiris further. But it must know that road closure can only do more damage to Delhi’s case in Kashmir, alienate the people further, provide more grist to the enemy’s mill. This order of not allowing civilian vehicular movement has to go as it has no place in a democratic set up.