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People aghast as highway ban troubles them

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Photo/Javed Khan

Srinagar, Apr 07: Ghulam Mohammad Bhat started off from his home here to reach a hospital where his daughter is admitted, but cannot find any means of transport to get there due to the ban on civilian traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar highway.

"I have been walking for the past 15 minutes, but there is no public transport in sight. I have to reach JVC hospital (SKIMS Medical College and Hospital, Bemina), where my daughter is admitted," PTI quoted Bhat as saying near Tengpora bridge as he braced himself for another hour of walk.

Concertina wires and barricades were put on roads connecting the highway in order to prevent the movement of civilian vehicles. The Army, police and CRPF personnel were deployed in strength to ensure that the ban in implemented in letter and spirit.

However, the scale of inconvenience caused by the ban order became visible on the very first day today as dozens of people could be seen at each intersection, pleading the government forces to allow them to cross to the other side of the highway.

There were people who had patients in the vehicles and wanted to take them to hospitals or parents accompanying their children on way to tuition ahead of the various competitive exams due next month.

A groom from Anantnag district, who got married in Doda district on other side of the Jawahar Tunnel, had to obtain permission from the authorities concerned to take his wedding entourage to the bride's home.

Danish Ali, a resident of New Qazibagh in Anantnag, got the permission for himself and his 12 companions to travel on the highway on Saturday and Sunday, but only after the entourage was put to proper frisking and security check.

Pained by the scenes, a urologist decided to cycle his way to his hospital instead of travelling in an ambulance, which have been exempted from this ban order.

"I decided to use the cycle so that I can feel the pain of the people, what they are going through because of this order. I am not going to get into arguments with anyone if I am stopped. I will change my way and pedal on," Dr Umar said.

Umar said roads were the lifeline of any place and shutting them down meant shutting down the city, state or the country. (With PTI inputs)

… and government says, public movement was smooth

Jammu, Apr 07: The government claimed that the “elaborate arrangements” made by it were “successful” on the first day of the traffic prohibition on national highway today.

An official press release said the movement of civilian vehicles in Kashmir and Jammu divisions “remained normal in all interior roads except for the national highway where only exempted categories of vehicles were seen plying.”

It said as per the reports gathered from the DCs of Pulwama, Anantnag, Budgam and Baramulla, special permission passes were given to 128, 210, 45 and 110 vehicles, totaling 493 vehicles, falling in the exempted categories. Passes were issued in Udhampur and Ramban also. These vehicles were given passes for traveling on the highway.

It said “a very large number of vehicles” were allowed to cross the national highway at various crossings in all districts.

In Srinagar, over 2000 civilian vehicles crossed Panthachowk towards various destinations along the national highway, it said adding that “normal civil traffic movement was observed in various areas including Tengpora, Shalteng, Parimpora, Nowgam, Batamaloo, Sanatnagar, Bemina Chowk, Hyderpora, Chanpora and Narbal Crossing where over 10,000 vehicles crossed the highway unhindered.”

In Anantnag, around 3000 vehicles crossed the national highway at various crossings, it said.

Many people used alternate roads, especially the old national highway where available, and other internal routes to commute and also to reach Srinagar, thus completely avoiding the national highway.

It claimed that the students appearing in various exams also reached in time as their roll number slips were treated as passes. All emergency cases, medical or otherwise are being cleared without any delay.

“Doctors and businessmen who have to attend their establishments on the national highway were allowed without any problem,” the statement said.

It said from the overall proceedings of the day, “it appears that the movement of vehicles was hassle-free, although heavier on alternate routes.”

The statement said that the local administration had made “extensive arrangements” to facilitate the movement of public through the provision of Travel Passes through a Nodal Officer in each district for covering various emergencies, including medical, school buses, students appearing in examinations, government employees on duty, hospital staff on duty, passengers travelling by air, political persons needing to campaign, etc. on production of requisite identification documents.

Over a 100 Executive Magistrates were on duty today along the national highway from Baramulla to Udhampur from 5 am to ensure smooth movement of “security forces’ convoy and also facilitate smooth civilian movement.”

“The State administration is committed to ensure the least inconvenience, particularly on the two notified days, i.e. Sundays and Wednesdays. This should set at rest any misgivings and also give the true situation on the ground on Day 1 of the restriction,” the official statement said.

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