News Desk |
New Delhi’s recent repressive measure of closing down the Kashmir Highway NH 44, sprawling over 300 kms from Baramulla to Jammu, has come under sharp criticism for mimicking “Israel’s lockdown of Gaza”, where civilian movements are restricted on the behest of supposed security risks to military movements.
The authorities of Indian-occupied Kashmir have announced that the national highway, which connects more than seven different districts of the valley with Srinagar and Jammu city, will be closed down for civilian movements on two days of the week, Sunday and Wednesday, in order to provide security to the armed convoys.
There is no other evident aim behind this other than strangling the economy of the Kashmiri people, and making them more and more economically weaker and dependent on India.
The official statement of the order issued by the Indian authorities on Wednesday notes that this decision has been made “in view of the large movement of security forces on the national highway during the parliamentary elections and associated possibility of any Fidayeen [suicide] terror attack on security forces’ convoys”.
The statement issued by the central IAK government further states, “To mitigate the inconvenience to the civilians by this move, the government has notified two dedicated days in a week – Sunday and Wednesday – exclusively for movement of security forces convoys and there would be a complete ban on civilian traffic on the national highway during these two days from 4 am to 5 pm.”
Highly Condemnable: Restricting the Movements of Innocent Kashmiris
During an election rally in Baramulla, President of People’s Democratic Party Mehbooba Mufti raised the issue of the closure of the arterial highway. Hindustan Times quoted her remarks, “Today Delhi people decided that roads in Kashmir will be closed for Kashmiris for two days in a week. We will not allow it to happen. We will come out on roads like we came out against the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) ban. This dictatorship won’t work here. Will you decide in Delhi that whether a Kashmiri will walk on Kashmir’s roads?”
New Delhi’s recent repressive measure of closing down the Kashmir Highway NH 44, sprawling over 300 kms from Baramulla to Jammu.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah expressed his anger at this exceedingly inconvenient new challenge, “Today we are not even owners of our own roads. Our national highway will be closed for two days. It is a new order — a Tughlaqi Farmaan.”
Greater Kashmir reported that this decision has garnered widespread condemnation and protests from the valley. Abdul Hameed Bhat, the acting chairman of JKFL, labelled this decision as an “anti-people” move that is highly unethical as this highway is the most “important lifeline” and its closure will impact the businesses and livelihood of millions of people from populated regions of Awantipora, Udhampur, Pampore, Srinagar and Baramulla. He said, “It will do nothing good but will add to the miseries of the local inhabitants”.
Implications for the Kashmiri People & Economy
Speaking to Global Village Space on the condition of anonymity, a Kashmiri journalist from Srinagar shared that this decision to close down the highway for the civilian population is being likened to the situation observed in “Gaza and Palestine”. He shared, “Kashmir has one major highway, which is used for transporting all the necessities and goods people need, which includes food, healthcare equipment, clothing and more. This 320 km is the lifeline of the region, and very important for the valley’s survival”.
Now that the Indian army have decided to shut down this arterial highway on the behest of security implications, the Srinagar-based journalist shares that this decision is going to break the economy of Kashmir because so many towns and cities fall on this route, which will just stop functioning for the designated two days. “Their economy will be totally in shambles”.
During an election rally in Baramulla, President of People’s Democratic Party Mehbooba Mufti raised the issue of the closure of the arterial highway.
“It’s like a blockade like the ones we witness in Gaza and Palestine. Earlier it was a political problem, but with decisions like this one, India exhibits itself as a brutal occupation”, the Srinagar-based journalist observed. While commenting on the sentiments of the innocent people in the Indian-occupied valley, he observed that the people are extremely distressed as this will affect all walks of life, including businessmen, healthcare professionals and patients, students, travellers and other masses.
The unnamed Kashmiri journalist observed that this is an “economic blockade” and it is clearly targeting the Kashmiri people. “So many cities, districts and small towns, including Srinagar, Sopore, Pulwama, Anantnag, Ramban Banihal and others, lie on this road and their economies are dependent on the traffic movements on this highway, and if it is shut down for two days, the people are going to suffer a lot economically”.
He observed that the underlying motive of this blockade is to “strangle the economy” of Kashmir, “They want to make people more desperate so that they become their stooges and are more controllable. It’s an economic war where they seek to make the Kashmiri people economically weaker.”
While pointing out the “stupidity” of the Indian excuses for shutting down the most integral highway of the Indian-occupied valley, the Srinagar-based journalist noted, “It is like an open invitation to the militants to attack you because you have demarcated two days, Sunday and Wednesday, stating that the Highway will be closed and there will be no other movement aside from the troops. It’s going to be easier for the militants to attack them.”
The Kashmiri journalist concluded, “There is no other evident aim behind this other than strangling the economy of the Kashmiri people, and making them more and more economically weaker and dependent on India, and desperate-just like we see in Gaza and Palestine.”
Mina Jahangir with additional input from News Desk.