Closing highway will be detrimental
In a bizarre move the government has announced to close down the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway for civilian traffic for two days in a week. Though this order will be implemented for two months for now, but the impact it will have on the fragile economy and other related spheres will be mammoth in proportion.
The latest directive issued by the government says that the national highway from Baramulla to Udhampur will be put out of bounds for the civilian traffics on Sundays and Wednesdays till May 31.
The measure has been adopted to facilitate unhindered movement of security forces’ convoys to eliminate the possibility of fidayeen attacks during the ongoing poll process and the heavy movement of troops along the highway.
Perhaps the decision to close down the highway was not taken even in the peak years of militancy when many attacks took place on the highway. This is for the first time that during the 30 years turmoil in the Valley, the government has taken such a measure.
The ban on civilian traffic would be effective from Baramulla to Udhampur through Srinagar, Qazigund, Jawahar-Tunnel, Banihal and Ramban.
The restriction on civilian traffic on the highway was announced two days after state police chief Dilbag Singh said that a study group has been set up to suggest steps to strengthen the security along the 270-km Jammu-Srinagar highway following the Pulwamafidayeen attack.
While the closure of highway will have a long and due bearing on the economy of the state, it also raises questions on the failure of the internal security grid to ensure safe movement of convoys.
The closure of highway during two days of a week will deprive the commuters free movement on the arterial road besides will also hamper movement of essentials and other merchandise which otherwise takes days together to reach their respective destinations as the highway is in a dilapidated condition.
The movement of troops and security personnel on the highway has been discussed for long and several measures were proposed by various political parties as well. The suggestions to let the troops travel in special trains from Banihal to Baramulla were also suggested as the travel would have been safer and even comfortable as well.
However, the suggestions were declined and a new measure that is going to spell out problems for the whole lot of people has been announced.
The move will surely put lot of questions on the fore front that will need an answer from the establishment. The foremost being that the administration is putting up a military face in an era where civil liberties are given preference.