The Jammu and Kashmir government Saturday partially relaxed the two-day-a-week restrictions on the movement of civilian traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway which was put in place to facilitate movement of security forces’ convoys.
Earlier this month, the government had imposed the restrictions on the NH-44, days after the Pulwama attack, which left 40 paramilitary CRPF men dead. The restriction barred civilian traffic from plying on the road on Wednesdays and Sundays.
An official spokesman said that now, there would be no restrictions from Srinagar to Baramulla on Wednesdays. However, the restrictions would continue between Srinagar and Udhampur on the National Highway as earlier, he added.
“The government has reviewed the requirement of security forces, particularly in the light of successful conduct of elections in Baramulla, Jammu, Srinagar and Kathua. The requirement of security forces is now reducing as they are being de-inducted,” the spokesman said. “The restrictions would continue between Srinagar and Udhampur on NH-44 as earlier. However, these would be reviewed periodically and relaxation would be made as the need for restriction reduces.”
“Even on the days of restrictions, i.e. Sunday and Wednesday between Srinagar and Udhampur and on Sunday between Baramulla and Srinagar, the local administration would continue to facilitate movement of civilian traffic as has been happening in the last two weeks. Further, the local administration and police would examine the possibility of allowing public transport of JKSRTC to move during the period of restriction on the NH even on convoy days,” he added.
The spokesman said that a complete review of restrictions on the National Highway would be done after the last phase of elections on 6 May to examine the need for continuing with them.
SECURITY FORCES WERE REQUIRED FOR SMOOTH CONDUCT OF POLLS
He said that after the Pulwama attack there was a large movement of security forces on an unprecedented scale. “These forces were required both for anti-militancy operations and for conducting general elections peacefully. In order to facilitate unhindered and secure movement of security forces’ convoys, the government had imposed a prohibition on civilian traffic on NH-44 twice a week from 4.00 am to 5.00 pm,” the spokesman said.
ELABORATE ARRANGEMENTS WERE MADE TO FACILITATE PUBLIC MOVEMENT
“Although this was only for 15% of the total time in a week, the government was also keen to minimize inconvenience to the public. Elaborate arrangements were made by the local administration to facilitate the movement of public during the period of restriction.
This included provision of travel passes for covering various emergencies, including medical emergencies, school buses, students appearing in examinations, government employees on duty, hospital staff on duty, passengers travelling by air, political persons needing to campaign, etc.
Besides, over 100 executive magistrates were deployed to ensure smooth movement of security forces’ convoys and also facilitate civilian movement. Divisional Commissioners had made additional arrangements at the local level to facilitate public movement.”
He said that the government is monitoring the convoy needs of security forces on a real time basis and making all attempts to minimize public inconvenience. “No restrictions were imposed on 17 April although it was a convoy day (Wednesday) as there was no need for movement of security force convoys,” he added.
The spokesman said that the purpose of these restrictions is in the larger interest of security of everyone. He appealed the people to extend full cooperation in the smooth regulation of traffic. “The government is alive to the needs of people and inconvenience caused to them while being cognizant of the needs of security forces.
The restrictions strike a balance between the two. The restrictions will be reviewed on a real time basis and modifications will be made as necessary in the coming days,” the spokesman added.