Day 1 of J&K curbs: Highway out of bounds, railway stations out of reach

Army convoy crosses national highway near Panthachowk, Srinagar on Sunday. (Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

It had taken the family of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat two months to get an appointment with a doctor in Srinagar. On Sunday, as they travelled the 60 km from Bandipore to Srinagar, a 500-metre stretch of the national highway became the barrier.

At Shalteng crossing, a city suburb where the Bandipore highway connects to the national highway, the road was closed by spools of concertina wire. Mohammad Abass, a duty magistrate appointed by the government to facilitate civilian movement, was turning everyone away.

“This is cruel,” said the 55-year-old Bhat, who was accompanied by two women and a teenage boy. “We need to travel for only a few hundred metres on the (national) highway before we take an interior road. But they are not allowing us to do this.”

Explained | How closing J&K highway to civilian traffic impacts life in Valley

The 500 metres of road from Shalteng crossing to Parimpora crossing cut off Bandipore district from Srinagar city on the first day of the twice-a-week ban on civilian traffic movement on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla stretch of the national highway. This stretch has a service lane, but on Sunday that too was closed for civilian traffic.

From early morning, contingents of J&K Police, paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Army were deployed along the highway, and intersecting roads were closed by…

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