‘Revoke this order’: Political parties protest against J-K highway ban
The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party on Sunday held protests in Kashmir as the ban on civilian traffic on the national highway NH 44, from Baramulla to Udhampur, came into force.
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, along with party members, held a protest at Athwajan on the highway. He threatened more protests if the highway ban was not revoked.
“Now it is difficult to even take the sick for treatment. The Police and Army is everywhere. Is this a colony or are we living in a free country. They have kept us like they do in a prison. It is necessary that, before there is bloodshed, they revoke this order,” Abdullah said.
“It is their own mistake. They knew the attack (at Pulwama) was happening. Where did this material come from? It is their own doing and (now) we have to face its consequences. Before we start more protests they should revoke this order,” he said.
The ban on the movement of civilian vehicles on Sundays and Wednesdays on the highway has been put in place after the February 14 Pulwama bombing in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
A state government notification on Wednesday said that civilian traffic would not be allowed on the Baramulla-Srinagar-Udhampur highway on Sundays and Wednesdays to ensure safe movement of security convoys during the parliamentary elections.
National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah termed the highway closure a mindless order.
“Driving to Uri I’m getting to see firsthand the extent of disruption & inconvenience that is being caused to people because of the mindless highway closure order that is in place today,” he tweeted.
National Conference’s Anantnag Lok Sabha candidate Justice (retd.) Hasnain Masoodi, along with party leaders, held a sit-in on the highway against the ban at Wanpoh Anantnag.
PDP leaders and activists held a protest near Athwajan at the highway which was led by former legislator Ashraf Mir. The protesters raised slogans against the administration under the rule of Governor.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said they would approach the court against the order. She urged people to defy the ban.
“This is absolutely wrong. This is no occupational force. If GoI thinks that they will suppress people here by doing these activities, this is wrong. We are defying this ban. And we will also approach court. This won’t work. Kashmir is of Kashmiris. And Kashmiris don’t need to seek permission to travel on their own roads. We won’t allow this. I appeal to all the people to defy the ban and commute wherever they want to go,” she told media.
“This is Kashmir, not Palestine. We won’t allow you to turn our beloved land into an open air prison,” she also tweeted.
Former BJP ally Sajjad Lone called it a humanitarian disaster and asked the governor to scrap the order.”The highway ban is now turning into a humanitarian disaster. We’ve been flooded with calls from across the state. People in dire need to travel in order to tend to their day-to-day needs of survival stuck in a state of helplessness,” he tweeted.