The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday announced that the restrictions on civilian movement between Srinagar and Baramulla on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway-44 will be lifted from Thursday, PTI reported.
“The restriction on civilian movement between Srinagar and Baramulla on the NH-44 will be completely lifted with effect from May 2, 2019,” a spokesperson said. “There will be no prohibition on civilian traffic on this stretch on Sunday or Wednesday.” The order, however, does not impact the restrictions imposed on movement between Srinagar and Udhampur on the highway.
The spokesperson said the government is constantly reviewing the convoy needs of the security forces to reduce public inconvenience. “The restriction will be reviewed periodically and relaxation would be made as the need for restriction reduces,” he said, while adding that a complete review will be conducted subsequently.
In April, 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 Jammu and Kashmir 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 outlets have 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 into this incident.
On April 17, civilian traffic was allowed despite it being a Wednesday because no movement of security convoy was scheduled that day.