Kashmir-centric political parties were vying with each other to criticise the Modi government as the twice a week ban on the movement of civilian traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway began on Sunday to prevent Pulwama type terror attack on convoys of security forces.

The preventive measure of earmarking Sundays and Wednesdays till 31 May has been ordered following the recent Pulwama-type attack that failed in Banihal area on the highway while a convoy of the CRPF was moving. It was also aimed at the smooth movement of security forces during the five phases of the Lok Sabha elections.

The ban has been ordered on the 270 km stretch of the highway between Udhampur, the headquarters of Army’s Northern Command, and Baramulla in the extreme North of the Kashmir valley.

Reports of district authorities at various places having allowed people to drive their vehicles in cases of medical emergency and marriages have been received. The additional district magistrate of Anantnag, the hotbed of terrorism, permitted a groom, Danish Ali, and 12 others with him, to travel to Doda in four vehicles for the marriage ceremony.

Governor Satya Pal Malik has deployed duty magistrates along the highway to issue special travel passes to civilians. However, vehicles were caught up at many places for want of permission to move ahead. He had on Saturday ordered top Army, police and civil officers to ensure that the common people are not put to inconvenience on account of the curbs and suitable framework be put in place so that there is no unnecessary restriction on those in an emergency.

Since early morning, hundreds of vehicles were stranded on intersections and people were seen pleading with the police and security forces to allow them to move on.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, while travelling to Uri to address an election rally, tweeted: “Driving to Uri I’m getting to see firsthand the extent of disruption & inconvenience that is being caused to people because of the mindless highway closure order that is in place today”.

The PDP organised a protest against the ban on the outskirts of Srinagar. Party leader and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “Protested against Guv admins callous & absurd ban today. How can you restrict civilian movement on our main highway? You want to smother Kashmiris, change the demographics of the state & imprison them in their own land? Over my dead body”.

Sajad Lone, chief of the Peoples Conference, who the BJP is supporting, also organised a protest seeking to revoke restrictions on the movement of civilian traffic. Lone tweted: “The highway ban is now turning into a humanitarian disaster. Flooded will calls from across the state. People in dire need to travel in order to tend to their day to day needs of survival stuck in a state of helplessness. @jandkgovernor urgently needs to scrap the inhuman order”.

On 14 February, a terrorist of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) had rammed an explosive-laden minivan into a convoy of CRPF in Pulwama where more than 40 jawans were martyred.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announced a day later that restrictions will be imposed on the movement of civilian traffic as a preventive measure. However, the restrictions have been ordered only after another Pulwama-type terror attempt was recently made in Banihal.