The administration in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday partially relaxed the restrictions on civilian traffic movement on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, PTI reported. The curbs will now be in place only on Sundays on the Srinagar-Baramulla stretch of the highway.
“The restriction on civilian movement between Srinagar and Baramulla on National Highway 44 would now be limited only to Sundays,” a government statement said. “There would be no prohibition on civilian traffic on Wednesdays.”
The restrictions will continue as before between Srinagar and Udhampur. The government said it had reviewed the requirement of security forces after successful polling on April 11 and April 18. “As the requirement of security forces is now reducing as they are de-inducted, the government has decided to partially relax the restrictions,” a spokesperson said.
The situation will be reviewed periodically and relaxation will be made based on the need, the spokesperson said. A complete review of the restrictions will be done once elections conclude in the state on May 6.
Earlier this month, the state administration had 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. This was done to enable the increased movement of security forces before and during the Lok Sabha elections. The move came after the Pulwama attack on February 14, in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed.
The order was criticised by political leaders, who called it anti-civilian and filed petitions in the state High Court against the ban. The Centre justified the decision as a reasonable one and said it would ensure safe movement of security forces.
The government had put procedures in place to enable the movement of civilian vehicles in case of emergencies, but local media has reported complaints of chaos, confusion and inconvenience. On the second day of the ban on April 10, a patient died after his ambulance was stopped on the highway because of the restrictions. The Central Reserve Police Force has ordered an inquiry.
On April 17, civilian traffic was allowed despite it being a Wednesday because no movement of security convoy was scheduled that day.