The Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday announced that restrictions on civilian movement on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway 44 would be completely lifted from May 27.
In April, the state administration had banned civilian traffic movement on the highway between Baramulla and Udhampur from 4 am to 5 pm on Sundays and Wednesdays till May 31 to enable the increased movement of security forces before and during the Lok Sabha elections. The decision was taken keeping in mind the Pulwama attack on February 14 in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed. The restrictions were then partially lifted on April 20, May 2 and May 13.
Governor Satya Pal Malik decided to lift the restrictions “following a review of the security situation in the state and of the requirement of security forces’ convoys”, the government said in a statement. “These restrictions had become necessary following the movement of security forces on an unprecedented scale after the Pulwama terror attack. The forces were required both for anti-militancy operations and for smooth conduct of general elections.”
The government had claimed that the restrictions struck a balance between the needs of people and security forces.
The order was criticised by several political leaders in April. They called it anti-civilian and filed petitions in the state High Court. The Centre justified the decision 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 reported about the chaos, confusion and inconvenience caused by the order. On April 10, the second day of the ban, a patient died after his ambulance was stopped because of the restrictions.