July 2019 News

Amarnath Yatra: Ban On Rail, Highway Prompts Fresh Uproar In Kashmir

3 July 2019
Brighter Kashmir

Srinagar: The order to suspend railway service and civilian traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway briefly in view of ongoing Amarnath yatra has prompted uproar in the Valley with major political parties demanding rollback of the 'regressive' decision. In a statement, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference decried the restrictions on the civilian traffic on Qazigund-Nashri stretch, saying the measure is 'regressive and will put the people to undue duress.' The party general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar while censuring the administration for the imprudent step said, 'The incumbent administration is known for coming up with such unconsidered decisions. The move will inadvertently hit the movement of civilian traffic on the Jammu -Srinagar highway,' the spokesperson said quoting Sagar in a statement. He said the only national highway connecting Srinagar with the rest of country already suffers from intermittent blockages due to the vagaries of weather. 'The other day the civilian traffic on the stretch was curbed for 5 hours. The diktat of putting restrictions on the vehicular movement if persists will put the public to undue duress. The step is bound to hamper the easy movement of tourist inflow to Kashmir. Moreover the diktat will affect the traders by spoiling Kashmir bound perishable items and vice versa,' he said. Sagar while calling for an early revocation of the reckless diktat said, 'The frequent restrictions on the sole national highway connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country on one pretext or the other causes unimaginable loses to the business community apart from severe inconvenience to the general public including patients and students.' 'Nowhere in the world are people subjected to such bizarre diktats and deplorable treatment by the governments that claim to work for the betterment of common citizenry,' he said adding, 'Restrictions like these on a route as is already troubled with blockages tantamount to strangulation of the economic activity in the valley.' Sagar said such moves are uncalled for and reflective of the aversion that the present administration has for the humane values. 'I urge the administration to revoke the diktat of barring the civilian vehicles from plying on Qazigund-Nashri stretch from 10 am to 3 pm. Putting a whole lot of population to restrictions is analogous to disenfranchising them from their basic rights. Nowhere in the world are civilians treated like bound chattel. It does not behoove a working democracy like that of ours to come up with such 'Tuglaqi Farmans' on and off', he said. Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM) chairman Shah Faesal on Wednesday said that the Amarnath Yatris are welcome to the 'land of Shiva' but the suspension of the train services during the yatra 'must end'. Faesal said that in last 30 years for first time the national highway was closed for civilian movement and has been again closed for the annual yatra. 'First time in last 30 years SXR-JMU NH was closed to civilian traffic during elections. Now closed again for Yatra. Those signing orders to stop movement of locals must remembr that there wl b a day of reckoning. We welcome Yatris to land of Shiva. But this curfew must end,' Faesal said on twitter. On Tuesday, the Northern Railways decided to suspend train services between Qazigund and Banihal from 10 am to 3 pm, starting July 3 till completion of ongoing Amarnath Yatra. Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) chief, Ghulam Ahmad Mir expressed concern over the decision, saying that the Govt should withdraw the order of suspension of vehicle traffic and train service forthwith to ensure that people as well as other tourists were not put hardships due to its decision. Mir said people of Jammu and Kashmir have always been enthusiastic to extend every help to people coming from across the country to perform yearly Amarnath Yatra, besides they whole-heartedly welcome the Yatris and they will continue to remain important part of it (Yatra), Mir said. After suffering losses due to massive hailstorms across the Valley, the farmers in Kashmir have yet again got affected due to the restrictions imposed on civilian traffic on Srinagar-Jammu highway from Qazigund-Nashri for five hours in a day. Officials said the decision by the government has been taken in view of the ongoing 46-day-long Amarnath Yarta that commenced on Monday. Peoples Conference also slammed the state government for taking such a decision. 'The decision to impose restrictions upon the movement of civilian traffic on the 97-km stretch from Qazigund to Nashri and suspend train services between Qazigund to Banihal is unprecedented and unjustified. While the safety and security of Yatris is paramount, it cannot be at the cost of making the lives of people miserable', PC spokesperson Adnan Ashraf Mir said in a statement. Adnan said that this is the first instance of an administration restricting civilian traffic along the highway to facilitate smooth movement of Yatra convoys. 'The ban will affect movement of fruit and vegetables trucks during Yatra movements which will disrupt the horticulture industry. The government must allow transportation of fruit trucks and other perishable items failing which the growers and dealers may face heavy losses,' he added. The fruit growers and dealers of the Valley said the restrictions on highway for five hours regularly was disastrous for Horticulture Industry The dealers and growers, under the banner of New Kashmir Fruit Association Fruit Marketing Complex Parimpora Srinagar said that they are extremely worried on banning of civil traffic on Srinagar-Jammu Highway. The association said that they have already suffered losses due to natural disaster with frequent hailstorm, stormy winds and strong rains since last three months followed by constant closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway due to one or the other reasons. 'We have suffered about 90% losses of their produce and the situation thereof has repeatedly been brought to the notice of all concerned authorities of the Governor's Administration, even the Fruit Mandi Parimpora which Mandi is treated one of the largest Mandi after Delhi and remains functional round the year had been closed in protest for two days,' they said. 'Now at the time of harvesting the fresh Fruit crop whatever is saved particularly cherry and Plum is on risk which crop is treated most perishable items and needs to be transported to its destination outside state on war footing basis in view of banning once again civil traffic for five hours daily in a day on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway in view of annual Amarnath Yatra,' they added.