Jammu and Kashmir highway blockade only for a fortnight, clarifies home ministry

Civilian traffic was kept off Jammu-Srinagar NH to allow passage of security convoy

Jammu and Kashmir highway blockade only for a fortnight, clarifies home ministry Stranded trucks on Jammu-Srinagar highway on the outskirts of Jammu, on Sunday | PTI

As protests erupt in Jammu and Kashmir over the closure of the lifeline to the Valley, the Union home ministry has clarified that reasonable restrictions have been put in place twice a week for twelve hours for safe convoy movement of security forces following the Pulwama terror attack. Moreover, these restrictions will be imposed for a short duration upto May 31 for a total of 15 days.

The total duration of prohibition is for 24 hours out of 168 hours in a week, which amounts to only 15 per cent of the time.

The opposition PDP and National Conference have lashed out against the government with the former asking people to defy the ban and warned the Centre against creating an Israel-Palestine situation.

Home ministry officials said mischievous disinformation is being spread about the recently imposed traffic restrictions on Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

“An impression is being created by some individuals that, the national highway has been closed for civilians. This is farthest from the truth,” the ministry said.

The MHA said that reasonable restrictions on civilian traffic for twelve hours, two-days a week, has been done to ensure safe movement of forces and at the same time minimising the inconvenience to public.

“During this period of 12 hours, alternative routes like old national highway and other internal roads are available for commutation of civilians without any hassles,” a senior MHA official said.

The officials said that restrictions were in place in J&K earlier also and are imposed from time to time in other parts of the country, for movement of the convoys of security forces.

“While regulations for movement of civilian traffic were already in place during convoy movement, the state government has now come out with a planned movement of security forces on national highway for a short duration which will be in force only till upto May 31, 2019, just for a total of 15 days.”

This is keeping in mind the need to have an efficient convoy movement which takes care of the security of the personnel, particularly, in the back drop of Pulwama attack on February 14 and a similar unsuccessful attempt on March 31.

“The restrictions have been re-imposed, after taking into account the requirements of students, patients and also ensuring minimum public hindrance. A robust mechanism to facilitate the public by the administration for exceptions and emergencies has also been ensured. Further, a mechanism has also been put in place to review these restrictions from time to time,” said the MHA.

“Certain vested interests are raking up this issue with utter disregard to the precious lives of security personnel that could be lost in Pulwama like attacks and are sensationalising the issue without any consideration for national security,” said the ministry official .

These planned restrictions which came into force from April 3 have by and large stabilised, and are being properly implemented by the state government without any inconvenience to public at large, the official said.