Srinagar, Apr 8: Notwithstanding the order reserving Sundays and Wednesdays for them, the government forces on Monday continued to move in convoys on the Highway here as civilian traffic was halted at multiple places making commuters questioning the two-days-a-week diktat.
The state government had announced that the national highway from Baramulla to Udhampur through Srinagar, Qazigund, Jawahar-Tunnel, Banihal and Ramban will be put out of bounds for civilian traffic on Sundays and Wednesdays till May 31 from 4 am to 5 pm.
No civilian traffic would be allowed during the movement of the paramilitary forces, a government circular issued had said. The order was executed for the first time on Sunday when the highway was barred for civilian traffic.
However, on Monday, people were annoyed after being stopped at various places to allow the convoy movement on the highway.
Mukhtyar Ahmad Khan, a commuter, told The Kashmir Monitor that he was travelling from Jammu to Srinagar with his wife when the vehicle he was in was stopped at several places on the highway on Monday to allow army convoys.
“We were not allowed to travel from Banihal Srinagar highway, the civilian traffic was diverted there from Kukarnag which caused lot of inconvenience to us,” Khan said, adding that they reached Srinagar by three hours delay.
Younis Ahmad, who lives by the highway in Awantipora, said that as compared to Sunday, a huge number of convoys was seen plying on national highway on Monday although they have been ordered to travel on Sundays and Wednesdays only.
“Civilians were stopped at various places until paramilitary vehicles passed,” Younis said.
Local cab drivers too were allegedly thrashed by the army.
Irshad Ahmad, a cab driver from Pulwama said that while travelling from the district to Srinagar he was thrashed by the army men as he drove along the highway.
“I was stopped by the army vehicles and some army men came out of their vehicle and started beating me. What kind of democracy is this?” Irshad questioned, adding that if they have been given two days, why they are patrolling on other days as well?
Former chief minister, Omar Abdullah also tweeted: “If it is safe for SF convoys to move on Monday WITHOUT closing the highway to civilian traffic why it is not safe on Wednesdays & Sundays? Nothing proves the mindlessness of the order more than army movement on “unsafe” days. This road is part of the highway by the way.”
Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir Baseer Khan refused to comment.
“I don’t know anything regarding the issue,” he said.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, Khalid Jahangir said, “I am not aware about the movement of security vehicles on Monday as no one informed me about it. I just came to know from you and will look into the matter.”