Rashid Paul

HC grants week’s time to J&K govt to file defence of highway ban

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Srinagar, Apr 24: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has granted week’s time to the state government counsel to file reply on highway ban.

“The government is holding a review meeting on 6th of May with regard to the ban on civilian traffic on the Jammu and Kashmir highway,” the High Court was informed Wednesday.

The senior additional advocate general of Jammu & Kashmir B A Dar also informed a two judge bench of the court on Wednesday that the matter regarding the ban is also pending before Supreme Court of India and the court has issued two week’s notice to the government for reply.

Meanwhile senior counsel Riyaz Ahmad Jan, who is representing a petitioner challenging the two-day-a-week ban on the highway connecting Kashmir with Jammu, submitted that a legal point is involved in the matter. The Home Secretary of the government, who issued the ban order, has no power to pass such an order imposing restrictions of civilian movement on the highway.

The court granted week’s time to the government counsel to file reply to all the pleas on the matter saying “you have to defend your (ban) action”.

The ban on the civilian traffic on Wednesdays and Sundays on the 271-km highway 44 between Udhampur and Baramulla in Kashmir was announced on April 03 by the government citing security reasons.

Personnel from the army, police and paramilitary forces are deployed at all intersections leading to the highway since the announcement of the ban.

Permits are issued by the government to people to ply on the highway on case-to-case basis depending upon the urgency of the situation.

This is the first time since the outbreak of militancy in Kashmir in 1989 that the government decided to stop civilian traffic on the highway. The move came weeks after 40 paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in a suicide attack in Pulwama district on 14th of February on the highway.

The move has been decried by the politicians across political ideologies, trade bodies and civil society groups in Kashmir.

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