Earlier this month, the Government had imposed restrictions on civilian movement on the Highway (NH-44) connecting Jammu to Srinagar, in order to ensure adequate security to the movement of Forces’ Convoys while at the same time minimizing public inconvenience.
It may be recalled that there has been a large movement of security forces on an unprecedented scale after the Pulwama attack. These forces were required both for anti-militancy operations and for conducting General Elections peacefully. In order to facilitate unhindered and secure movement of Security Forces’ Convoys, the Government had imposed a prohibition on civilian traffic on NH-44 from Baramulla to Udhampur twice a week, i.e. on Sunday and Wednesday, from 4.00 a.m to 5.00 p.m.
Although this was only for 15% of the total time in a week, the Government was also keen to minimize inconvenience to the public. Elaborate arrangements were made by the local administration to facilitate the movement of the public during the period of restriction. This included provision of Travel Passes for covering (i) various emergencies, including medical emergencies, (ii) school buses, (iii) students appearing in examinations, (iv) Government employees on duty, (v) hospital staff on duty, (vi) passengers travelling by air, 9vii) political persons needing to campaign, etc. Besides, over 100 Executive Magistrates were deployed to ensure smooth movement of Security Forces’ Convoys and also facilitate civilian movement. Divisional Commissioners have been additional arrangements at the local level to facilitate public movement.
The Government is monitoring the convoy needs of security forces on a real-time basis and making all attempts to minimize public inconvenience. For example, no restrictions were imposed on 17-04-2019, although it was a convoy day (Wednesday) as there was no need for movement of Security Force Convoys.
The Government has once again reviewed the requirement of security forces, particularly in the light of successful conduct of elections in Baramulla and Jammu on 11-04-2019 and Srinagar and Kathua on 18-04-2019. As the requirement of Security Forces is now reducing as they are de-inducted, the Government has decided to partially relax the restrictions on traffic imposed earlier as follows: –
1. The restriction on civilian movement between Srinagar and Baramulla on NH-44 would now be limited only to Sunday w.e.f. 22-04-2019. There would be no prohibition on civilian traffic on Wednesday.
2. The restrictions would continue between Srinagar and Udhampur on NH-44 as earlier. However, these would be reviewed periodically and relaxation would be made as to the need for restriction reduces.
3. Even on the days of restrictions, i.e. Sunday and Wednesday between Srinagar and Udhampur and on Sunday between Baramulla and Srinagar, the local administration would continue to facilitate the movement of civilian traffic as has been happening in the last two weeks. Further, the local administration and police would examine the possibility of allowing public transport of JKSRTC to move during the period of restriction on the NH even on convoy days.
4. A complete review of restrictions on the Highway would be done after the last phase of elections on 06-05-2019 to examine the need for continuing with them.
The Government stated that the purpose of these restrictions is in the larger interest of the security of everyone and appealed the people to extend full cooperation in the smooth regulation of traffic. The Government is alive to the needs of people and inconvenience caused to them while being cognizant of the needs of security forces. The restrictions strike a balance between the two. The restrictions will be reviewed on a real-time basis and modifications will be made as necessary in the coming days.