- Heavy security along the 270-km-long highway from Baramulla to Udhampur
- Ban on civilian traffic, road to be open to only security convoys
- Decision comes about 2 months after attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama
The ban on civilian traffic for two days a week on an important highway in Jammu and Kashmir begins today. Heavy security has been deployed along the 270-km-long highway from Baramulla to Udhampur to enforce the ban on civilian traffic, so that the road is kept open exclusively for convoys of the security forces every Sunday and Wednesday.
The ban was imposed to prevent any attack similar to the suicide bombing on Jammu-Srinagar highway in February that killed 40 CRPF soldiers.
Duty magistrates have been deployed along the highway to issue special travel passes for emergency services, officials said.
Since early morning, hundreds of vehicle are stranded on intersections and people are seen pleading with the police and security forces to allow them to move on. But no civilian vehicle is allowed to use the highway.
In Anantnag district, a groom obtained travel pass from the district magistrate use the highway for his wedding. The permission signed by the additional district magistrate of Anantnag allowed 12 people in four vehicles to accompany the wedding party.
The order to enforce the ban on highway travel by the state administration has been criticised by political parties and civil society groups. They say banning civilian traffic over security concerns has never happened in the past and it was a drastic step, instead of finding alternatives.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted:
Driving to Uri I'm getting to see first hand the extent of disruption & inconvenience that is being caused to people because of the mindless highway closure order that is in place today.- Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) April 7, 2019
On February 14, a terrorist of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed had driven an explosive-laden minivan along a 78-vehicle convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force and detonated it.
The attack on the highway, which was supposed to have been sanitised from any threat, led to questions over the general safety rules followed for soldiers if they were to be transported from one sensitive place to another in a large group.
The highway had been sanitised in the morning for the movement of CRPF buses. Despite that, the bomber was able to access it.