Rashid Paul

 Blocking Highway: SHRC takes suo moto cognizance

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Issues notices to top Govt functionaries

Srinagar April 05: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) today took suo moto cognizance of the government decision to curb movement of civilian traffic on the National Highway and asked the senior government functionaries to file a detailed report on the matter.

The chairman of the Commission Justice (Retd) Bilal Nazki while taking suo moto cognizance of the matter issued notices to chief secretary of J&K, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, and Inspector General of Police, Traffic, Kashmir.

The Commission asked the officers to file a detailed report on the issue and listed the matter for further hearing on 30th of this month.

The state government on Wednesday announced that no civilian traffic will be allowed on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway on Sundays and Wednesdays from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. to ensure the safety of the security convoys. The restrictions according to the official announcement will remain in force till May 31.

The restrictions on civilian traffic on the 271-km highway will remain in force from 4 am to 5 pm, said the order, which follows the suicide attack on a CRPF convoy on the highway in Pulwama on February 14 in which more than 40 paratroopers were killed.

SHRC took cognizance of the media reports that the government decision shall lead to a humanitarian crisis in the state.

Almost all Valley politicians including three former chief ministers have slammed the decision to curb civilian traffic on the highway.

Political leaders cutting across political ideologies, trade bodies and civil society groups and human rights activists have criticized the decision.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah termed the step as an interference in to the basic rights of the citizens. “What is happening for God’s sake. Are you trying to make Kashmir a colony of the British?” he asked the administration.

“GoI’s current approach towards Kashmir has been consistent only when it comes to repression. Suffocate Kashmiris, throw them in jails, deprive them of basic rights and make them suffer,” former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said.

Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone said the curbs on civilian travel  would trigger humanitarian crisis in Kashmir.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) in a statement said “at a time when the Kashmir Chamber has been raising the issue of lack of alternative routes and means of travel to Kashmir, the closure of the only available road link would put the whole population to unimaginable inconvenience and will have disastrous consequences for our economy”.

Div Com says, emergencies allowed

Srinagar: Two days after the government banned the traffic movement on Srinagar-Jammu highway for two specified days in a week, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan said that emergency vehicles including ambulances, school buses and other essential services will be allowed on both the restricted days.

Addressing a press conference in Srinagar, Div com along with IGP Kashmir, SP Pani told media person that a meeting was put on force earlier with the top police officers and district development commissioners regarding the issue. During the meeting, it was decided that all the emergency vehicles would be allowed on the highway.

He said that in order to make the civilian traffic movement smooth and comfortable, the government has decided to ban the civilian movement for two days in a week. He said authorities have found it better to put restrictions on two days so that traffic plies normally on other days.

There would be no restrictions on vehicles of “medical emergencies, schools, colleges, government employees, and people running business establishments, those who have orchards near the highway, tourist vehicles, and those who have to travel by air”, Khan said.

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