With no highway restrictions, civilian vehicles still stopped and issued passes

With no highway restrictions, civilian vehicles still stopped and issued passes
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SRINAGAR: Civilian traffic coming from south Kashmir to Srinagar was not allowed on the national highway without permission of the designated magistrate on Wednesday, even though the government had ordered that the civilian traffic ban would not be applicable today.
A commuter who travels to Srinagar from south Kashmir on daily basis told Kashmir Reader that he was stopped on the highway near the green tunnel junction where a queue of vehicles had already been halted. There were concertina wires laid at the junction which blocked traffic coming from Anantnag, he said.
He said that along with other passengers, he was moved towards the car of the Executive Magistrate (EM) which was stationed on the road side. “It was about 11am when we moved to the EM’s car to obtain the necessary pass, which we had to show at multiple places to government forces deployed on the road,” he said.
One of the passes issued by the Executive Magistrate today is with Kashmir Reader.
Deputy Commissioner (DC) Anantnag Khalid Jahangir denied any such blockade on the highway. “There was no such ban today. My office has not issued any such passes. I don’t have any information about it,” he said. When told that Kashmir Reader has a copy of the vehicle pass issued by the EM, Khalid said he will get them checked.
This incident is one of many that has taken place on the highway since the ban on civilian traffic was imposed for two days a week to allow uninterrupted movement of armed forces’ convoys. There have been videos on social media that show how the forces prevent movement of ambulances on the highway. On Tuesday, a sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) who was on poll duty was allegedly beaten up by the army. The SDM himself had to write to police to register an FIR.
Despite such incidents, Srinagar-based army spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia says that priority is being given to ambulances and school buses. When asked about the assault on the SDM he said, “Facts about the SDM incident are being ascertained.” Kalia hung up the phone when this newspaper attempted to ask him further questions.
Meanwhile, a landslide hit the highway at Anokhi Fall near Ramban at about 7am, which was cleared within two hours by the road clearance agency. The landslide was triggered by rains which lashed wide parts of Jammu and Kashmir including the highway on Tuesday, an official said.
“The traffic is moving smoothly when last reports were received,” the official said, adding that no vehicle was allowed from the opposite direction in view of the one-way restrictions which are in force due to the ongoing work on the four-laning project.
—With PTI inputs