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Hundreds Stranded As Civilian Traffic Ban On J&K Highway

SRINAGAR: The ban on civilian traffic for two days a week on an important highway in Occupied Kashmir begins today.

Heavy security has been deployed along the 270-km-long highway from Baramulla to Udhampur to enforce the ban on civilian traffic so that the road is kept open exclusively for convoys of the security forces every Sunday and Wednesday.

The ban was imposed to prevent any attack similar to the suicide bombing on Jammu Srinagar highway in February that killed 40 CRPF soldiers.

Duty magistrates have been deployed along the highway to issue special travel passes for emergency services, officials said.

Since early morning, hundreds of vehicles are stranded on intersections and people are seen pleading with the police and security forces to allow them to move on. But no civilian vehicle is allowed to use the highway.

In Anantnag district, a groom obtained travel pass from the district magistrate use the highway for his wedding. The permission signed by the additional district magistrate of Anantnag allowed 12 people in four vehicles to accompany the wedding party.

The order to enforce the ban on highway travel by the state administration has been criticised by political parties and civil society groups.

They say banning civilian traffic over security concerns has never happened in the past and it was a drastic step, instead of finding alternatives.