Facing criticism for traffic curbs on the national highway connecting Jammu and Srinagar, the Union Home Ministry defended its move by saying that ban was necessary in the backdrop of the Pulwama terror attack. The MHA has issued a statement more than a week before when it has to file its reply to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. The High Court has asked it to respond by April 19 to a bunch of petitions challenging the decision of ban.
“The step has been taken for ensuring safe movement of forces till May 31,” MHA said in the statement.
In the statement, the ministry gave statistics in its defence stating the total duration of prohibition is for 24 hours out of 168 hours in a week, which amounts to only 15 per cent of the time.
Terming it "deliberate and mischievous disinformation" campaign about traffic restrictions on the national highway connecting Jammu with Kashmir Valley, the ministry said, "The state government...has already clarified in unambiguous terms, that out of seven days in a week, only reasonable restrictions have been imposed, that too for 12 hours, two days in a week. This has been done to ensure safe movement of forces and at the same time minimising the inconvenience to public."
"While regulations for movement of civilian traffic were already in place during convoy movement, the state government has now come out with a planned movement of security forces on the national highway for a short duration - up to May 31, 2019," reads the statement.
The regulations have been imposed "just" for a total 15 days keeping in view the convoy efficiency and security of the personnel, "particularly in the backdrop of Pulwama attack on February 14, 2019 and a similar unsuccessful attempt on March 31, 2019", it stated.
Meanwhile, former chief minister Omar Abdullah once again led a protest march on Wednesday demanding revocation of the order.
"We have been continuously asking the government to rethink on this order since the day this 'Tughlaqi farmaan' was issued. There is no need for such a ban," he told reporters.
According to the order issued on April 3 by state Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra, no civilian traffic will be allowed to move from Baramulla in north Kashmir to Udhampur in Jammu region on Sundays and Wednesdays till May 31.