Blocking the highway
Government’s decision of not allowing any sort of civilian movement on national highway, two days a week, and keeping it exclusively for convoy movement has angered all sections of the society. No one from politicians to civil society; from business to other fields of life has been amused by this decision which is undoubtedly going to trouble the already troubled populace. No civilian movement on every Sunday and Wednesday from 4 am to 5 pm from Baramulla through Srinagar, Qazigund, Jawahar Tunnel, Banihal and Ramban till Udhampur is necessarily going to be a huge inconvenience to students, patients, government employees, traders, tourists and all. This highway is the only link that connects Kashmir Valley with rest of the world and thus stopping civilian movement on it for two days a week is unimaginable.
Jammu and Kashmir has had a troubled history but never ever has such a decision been taken by the governments, that be, in the past. Civilian movement on national highway was not stopped during 1965 war with Pakistan; it was not stopped during 1971 war with Pakistan and it was also not stopped during Kargil war. Government’s explanation that the decision has been taken in view of the large movement of security forces on the highway during the parliamentary elections and associated possibility of any suicide attacks sans logic. Instead of admitting that Pulwama terror attack was a security failure and instead of pin-pointing the loop-holes in security bandubast, the government has decided to punish the common masses. Isn’t it a fact that only few months back we had panchayat and urban polls? Isn’t it a fact that even during those elections there was massive security forces movement on the national highway? If civilian movement during those convey movements was not stopped then, why now? Is it a knee-jerk reaction to Pulwama terror attack? If yes, one has every reason to doubt the wisdom of the government.
India is a democracy. Here every citizen is free. Like other freedoms, freedom to travel, whenever and wherever, is a basic right. No democracy can put restrictions on the movement of an entire population. Can the government explain how its own employees would report to their places of posting on every Wednesday? Can government explain how students and teachers would reach to their respective schools? The populace can’t be treated as second class citizens. No, not at all. Indian constitution wouldn’t allow any dispensation to do. So it is advisable that the government realizes the folly of its decision and revokes it. The sooner, the better.