Srinagar: The Jammu-Srinagar highway was not closed even during the Kargil war when intelligence reports suggested suicide attackers were at large, former chief minister Farooq Abdullah said on Thursday, a day after the government decided to block the road for two days a week during movement of military convoys.
“What is happening, for god’s sake? Are you trying to make Kashmir a colony of the British?” Abdullah said and termed the decision an interference with citizens’ 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 on Sundays and Wednesdays till May 31.
The restrictions on civilian traffic on the 271-km highway will remain in force from 4am to 5pm, said the order. 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.
“We brought the state from the 1989 turmoil to 2014 when tourism was booming and separatists had become redundant. Look where we are now,” said 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 national 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 security forces’ convoys to eliminate the possibility of fidayeen terror attacks during the ongoing poll process, the government’s 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.
During his visit to Kashmir after the Pulwama terror attack that left 40 security personnel dead, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced that no civilian traffic would be allowed during the movement of paramilitary forces.