Is it really what we the people of Jammu and Kashmir are heading for? Surprisingly, every month we are witnessing a new surprise in the form of a new diktat from New Delhi as well as the Governor-.run Jammu and Kashmir government. Leave what the people faced since the three-decade-long conflict but for the recent months under the Governor’s rule, it seems that common Kashmiris are being pushed to the wall. Though we have been already passing through frequent undeclared restrictions, internet ban, sealing of the schools run by Jamaat-e-Islami and now the most unexpected and inhuman diktat came in the form of highway traffic ban for two days every week.
The government on April 3, 2019, issued an order under which there would be a total ban on civilian traffic movement on the National Highway 44 on two days every week from Baramullah to Udhampur. The order shook the entire populace of Jammu and Kashmir as it has happened for the first time. Such kind of inhuman order in the name of security was never issued before despite J&K witnessing four elections, rise of militancy and three mass agitations in the recent years.
It is unfortunate that a person who has to go through the routes which are connected to the National Highway has to seek permission in case of emergency but one cannot think of a movement for routine travel. People are furious against the ban and say that the decision taken by the government was for security forces but what about the patients, students, employees, businessmen, and others who will suffer hugely due to this ban. The highway is the only road link that connects Kashmir with rest of the country and this order will choke the freedom of movement for lakhs of residents who used to go for jobs and other activities. On the other side, the ban will create a dent in the Valley’s horticulture industry and tourism. There is a large chunk of apples stored in cold storages, which require urgent transportation to various destinations in the country. Similarly, the ban will have serious implications for the upcoming tourist season as it will only add to the woes of tourists and pilgrims. Such diktats of New Delhi need to be reviewed and the decision of closing down the highway needs to be rolled back.