National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Wednesday led a protest march near Pantha Chowk against the decision to ban movement of civilian traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway for two days a week. Abdullah and his party colleagues demanded that the Governor Satya Pal Malik-led state administration revoke the order.

Abdullah refuted the Ministry of Home Affairs claim that the order will ensure safe movement of security forces and said that the Army had not asked for the ban. “We have been continuously asking the government to rethink on this order since the day this ‘Tughlaqi farmaan’ was issued,” the former chief minister told reporters, according to PTI.

Abdullah said that former Army chief General VP Malik described the order as dumb.

The state government has banned civilian traffic movement between Baramulla and Udhampur on National Highway 44 from 4 am to 5 pm on Sundays and Wednesdays till May 31. The move comes after the February 14 Pulwama attack in the state, in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs defended the ban and said that an impression is being created that the national highway has been closed for civilians, which is “farthest from the truth”. The ministry claimed that the restrictions have not caused much inconvenience to the public.