Setting aside their differences, political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have come together in their opposition to the ban on civilian traffic for two days a week on an important highway that came into effect today.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called on people in the state to defy the ban. "My appeal to people is not to accept this ban. Defy it and travel wherever you want to go. We will challenge this ban in the court as well," she said.
The People's Democratic Party's chief also tweeted videos of her as well as her party leaders protesting against state Governor Satya Pal Malik and his administration over the ban. "This is Kashmir, not Palestine. We wont allow you to turn our beloved land into an open air prison," she said.
Protested against Guv admins callous & absurd ban today. How can you restrict civilian movement on our main highway? You want to smother Kashmiris, change the demographics of the state & imprison them in their own land? Over my dead body. pic.twitter.com/y72LUVGhTY— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) April 7, 2019
Her rival in the state Omar Abdullah also took to Twitter, calling the ban "mindless". The National Conference leader raised concerns over the inconvenience it would cause. "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," Mr Abdullah said.
Mujibur hu ke teri mehfil me aa gaye hai ..Muskil yahi Ab to muskil me aa gaye hai...kaid me hai BULBUL saiyyad muskuraye...kaha bhi na jaye chup raha bhi na jaye ... #KashimirCaged#HighwayBan ...All hopes @JKNC_@OmarAbdullah#Dr Sab @ImranNDarpic.twitter.com/TnSpTRQE9R— Dr Sheikh Aamina (@Drsheikhamina) April 7, 2019
Other leaders including Sajjad Lone, a former ally of the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir, called the ban a "Humanitarian disaster". He called on the governor to "urgently" lift the ban. "Flooded will calls from across the state. People in dire need to travel in order to tend to their day to day needs of survival stuck in a state of helplessness. @jandkgovernor urgently needs to scrap the inhuman order," he said in a tweet.
The highway from Baramulla to Udhampur will be kept open exclusively for convoys of the security forces every Sunday and Wednesday, a government order said earlier this week. Security forces have been deployed along the 270-km-long highway to enforce the ban on civilian traffic. Duty magistrates have been deployed along the highway to issue special travel passes for emergency services, officials said.
The ban has been imposed to prevent an attack similar to the suicide bombing on Jammu-Srinagar highway in February that killed 40 CRPF soldiers.
A terrorist of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed had driven an explosive-laden minivan into a 78-vehicle convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force and detonated it.