The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday sought cooperation of the people in the smooth regulation of traffic along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, saying it was "committed" to ensure least inconvenience to civilian vehicles during movement of security convoys on the notified days. The elaborate arrangements made by administration for convenience of the people on the highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, during the restricted travel period was quite successful on the first day of the traffic prohibition, an official release said.
The governor administration last week announced a ban on civilian traffic on the 270-km highway on Sundays and Wednesdays to facilitate safe passage of security convoys till May 31. The ban came into force this morning amid protests by mainstream parties, including the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and Peoples Conference. The administration said the regulation of civilian traffic during movement of security forces' convoy had to be notified for two days per week in the larger interest of security of everyone, and appealed to people to extend full cooperation in the smooth regulation of the traffic as was the case Sunday.
"The restrictions are, in any case, applicable up to May 31 only. The total duration of prohibition is for 26 hours out of 168 hours in a week, which is 15 per cent of the time. Further, the total number of restricted days is just 15 during this entire period. Eight of these are Sundays," the release said. It stated planned restrictions, with active facilitation of the public by the administration for exceptions and emergencies, is far more convenient to the people so that they can plan their movements in advance.
"As movements reduce, the restrictions will be re-looked. The state administration is committed to ensure least inconvenience, particularly on the two notified days. This should set at rest any misgivings and also give the true situation on the ground on day one of the restriction," the official release said. As per the latest reports received from districts, it said the movement of civilian vehicles in both Kashmir and Jammu divisions remained normal in all interior roads, except for the highway, where only exempted categories of vehicles were seen plying.
"As per the reports gathered from the deputy commissioners of Pulwama, Anantnag, Budgam and Baramulla, special permission passes were given to 128, 210, 45 and 110 vehicles, respectively, totalling 493 vehicles, falling in the exempted categories. Passes were issued in Udhampur and Ramban also. These vehicles were given passes for travelling on the highway," it said. It said a very large number of vehicles were allowed to cross the highway at various crossings in all the districts.
In Srinagar, over 2,000 civilian vehicles crossed Pantha chowk towards various destinations along the highway. Normal civil traffic movement was observed in various areas of Srinagar, including Tengpora, Shalteng, Parimpora, Nowgam, Batamaloo, Sanatnagar, Bemina Chowk, Hyderpora, Chanpora and Narbal Crossing, where over 10,000 vehicles crossed the highway unhindered, the release said.
In Anantnag, around 3,000 vehicles crossed the highway at various junctions, it said, adding that many people used alternate roads, especially the old highway where available and other internal routes to commute and also to reach Srinagar, thus completely avoiding the highway. It said the students appearing for 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 highway were allowed without any problem. From the overall proceedings of the day, it appears that the movement of vehicles was hassle-free, although heavier on alternate routes," he said. It said local administration made extensive arrangements to facilitate the movement of people through the provision of travel passes from a nodal officer in each district for covering various emergencies, including medical, school buses, students appearing for any examination, political persons needing to campaign on production of requisite identification documents.
Besides, over a 100 executive magistrates were on duty Sunday along the highway from Baramulla to Udhampur from 5.00 AM, to ensure smooth movement of security forces' convoy and also facilitate smooth civilian movement, the release said.
(With inputs from agencies.)