Condemning the Central government’s unprecedented decision to prohibit civilian traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway twice a week from April 3 to May 31, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) demanded revocation of this Order immediately. It deplored this act as an unfair, undemocratic and draconian step, which goes against the Indian Constitution. It lamented it another in a series of unacceptable measures taken by the Narendra Modi government in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the most recent being the closing of a number of link roads to the same highway.
Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Dr. Binayak Sen, Sandeep Pandey, Prafulla Samantara, Kavita Srivastava and others from NAPM said that this step amounts to physically trapping an entire population and rendering them immobile, which is a violation of the Indian Constitution and fundamental rights, enshrined therein. It should be remembered that such a step was not taken even during the violence of the 1990s.
It deplored that this measure is eerily similar to the Israeli policy in Gaza, and reaffirms the suspicion that this government is ideologically attracted to the shameful policies of Israel with regard to Palestine. It has parallels also with the apartheid in South Africa and the Nazi treatment of Jews in Hitler’s Germany.
Stating that this move is clearly an assault on J&K’s economy, NAPM said that the highway is the only roadway link to Kashmir and thus a lifeline to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It will harm the studies of students, the employment of workers, the agriculture of farmers, the business of traders- reducing their access to the highway from three days a week to two, and the well-being of the general public.
NAPM also said that it will adversely affect tourism, an important sector for the state’s economy. The upcoming months are also crucial for exports, which will again be affected by this step. The government has cited the need to provide a secure passage to security forces on duty for upcoming elections, but this is only a poor excuse. Yet again, the government is using the cover of national security to heap misery on the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Given the existence of a Railway Line from Banihal to Baramulla, this step is needless.
NAPM alleged that this proves yet again that the BJP government does not care for the people of J&K, but instead is hell-bent on harassing them. We extend our solidarity to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and call for an immediate roll-back of the impugned decision.