Rashid Paul

Highway ban: HC issues notice to govt over JKPM’s plea

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PDP also files PIL against highway restrictions

Srinagar, Apr 08: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Monday issued a notice to the State government on a plea seeking striking down of the ban on movement of civilian vehicles on the Jammu-Kashmir national highway on Sundays and Wednesdays.

A division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan issued notice to the state government on a public interest litigation filed by former IAS officer Shah Faesal, through his counsel advocate Tassaduq Khwaja.

Faesal, in his PIL, has sought quashing of the order passed by State government last week, according to which the movement of civilian traffic on National Highway 44 between Udhampur and Baramulla has been banned on Sundays and Wednesdays to allow safe passage to government forces’ convoys. The ban came into force on Sunday.

The division bench directed the petition be listed for next hearing on Tuesday.

Faesal, the 2010 batch UPSC topper, resigned from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in January this year to protest unabated killings in Kashmir and maginalisation of Indian Muslims. Last month, he launched his own party the ‘Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement’.

According to the petition, chaos, confusion and inconvenience has been caused by restricting the traffic movement on the highway. The highway is the main road link between the Kashmir Valley and the rest of India.

It said that there are no alternate road network or other options available for people of Kashmir to travel across the state.

“The official order is unconstitutional, illegal arbitrary and capricious in nature, having been issued in direct violation of the rights guaranteed under Article 14, 19 and 21 of the constitution,” said the petitioner’s lawyer.

“The respondent Principal Secretary to Govt Home Department J&K, who issued the restriction order, has no power or authority to pass an order placing restrictions over the movement of people. The order is as such, non est in the eyes of law and deserves to be quashed,” it said.

“It is dictatorial in nature and sans any logic and judgment. Placing blanket ban on the movement of people on a key road link amounts to imposing curfew and is comparable to the Polish government order during Nazi occupation in December, 1939 prohibiting Jews from entering or using pathways, streets and public squares from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM,” said the petition.

Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has also filed a PIL against the highway ban and the case is likely to come up for hearing tomorrow.

“Senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar today filed a PIL against the highway closure ban by the government in J&K high court through former advocate general Jehangir Iqbal Ganai. The PIL is likely to be considered by honorable division bench tomorrow,” local news agency quoted PDP president Mehbooba Mufti as saying.

Sajad registers protest with Governor

Seeks immediate revocation of ‘draconian order’

Srinagar, Apr 08: Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone Monday wrote to Governor Satya Pal Malik to register his protest over the government order banning civilian traffic movement on the national highway for two days a week.

“This is the most despicable, irrational, undemocratic and senseless diktat ever to have been issued in a republic nation governed by the constitution,” Lone wrote in his letter.

“This outrageous order violates Article 19(1)(d) of the Constitution of India, which guarantees to the citizens the fundamental right to move freely in any part of the country,” Lone pointed out.

He said by barring the movement of the people of the state on two days a week, does the State administration want to convey that the fundamental rights are not applicable to the State of J&K or that the administration has the power to suspend these rights at its whim and caprice. “I think your Excellency has been grossly misled and ill-advised in this matter,” Lone wrote to Governor.

He said “this shameful order, reminiscent of totalitarian and despotic era of governance, is bound to turn into a humanitarian disaster as the school children, employees, people connected with trade and business and people in dire need to travel in order to tend their daily needs of survival would not be able to move.

“This restriction will also have a disastrous effect on tourism industry in the state when the tourism season has just begun. Practically, the hustle and bustle of life in the state would be in off-mode for these two days,” reads Lone’s letter to the Governor.

“While the safe movement of troops on the national highway cannot be compromised or undermined, there are other ways to ensure that. The troops can either be airlifted from Jammu or transported through dedicated railway coaches from Banihal to Baramulla. It doesn’t need to put the entire civilian populace into distress and agony,” he suggested, adding that such a course would also result in bad blood between the civilian population and the armed forces, which would be detrimental for security environment of the State.

“I accordingly appeal and request your Excellency to reconsider this issue and withdraw the order as expeditiously as possible. Such draconian orders have no place in civilized nations where rule of law prevail.

“Resort to such measures sends a wrong signal to the entire world that all is not well in J&K and also rebuffs the tall claims of the government that situation in the state is under control.”

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