Commuters are deeply harassed because traffic is halted repeatedly, and at times without valid reason.
The abrupt, frequent and exhausting restrictions on the movement of civilian traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway from Srinagar to Qazigund on the pretext of safe passage for the vehicles of security forces is causing inconvenience to the people beyond tolerance.
The restrictions can be justified when a huge convoy of armed security forces is moving on the highway. However, it has become a routine practice for the paramilitary troopers deployed along the highway to halt civilian traffic on both sides even if a water tanker of CRPF is passing through.
It is both frustrating and irritating to see the troopers halting the traffic at multiple points throughout the day even if there is movement of only one or two vehicles. There is no let-up in the inconvenience caused to the general public by unwarranted frequent halts.
This is like testing the patience of the general public. The halts are so exhaustive that civilian traffic is stopped after every 100 meters on the long Srinagar-Qazigund stretch of the national highway. This repeatedly puts the general public to great inconvenience.
It is shocking to observe that at times, the road operating party just flashes the red flag and stops the civilian traffic at will, evenwhen there is no movement of the security forces cavalcade at all. I have started to wonder whether this is being done deliberately and intentionally to irritate the civilians.
Commuters Cannot Be Treated Like Herds Of Cattle
Since last many days, people were putting up with these repeated restrictions on the plea that high security was due to Shri Amarnath Yatra. After the culmination of the Yatra, there are indications that people have lost patience. Now when the Yatra has culminated peacefully, there seems to be little reason to halt the civilian traffic unnecessarily. The commuters are getting angry now.
I agree that there are valid security concerns. Also, the security forces have to maintain their vigil at all times. But this cannot be done at the cost of the basic comfort of the general public.
Sometimes it seems that the road operating parties are halting the traffic just for fun. It is as if the commuters are not living beings. Rather they are toys or robots. There are hundreds and hundreds of commuters who are out of their homes for some urgent work that they have to be attend to. It is highly unfortunate that they seem to be treated like herds of cattle.
Over the last few days, heated arguments have been reported between the commuters and the paramilitary forces deployed along the national highway. The authorities must intervene and ensure that a people-friendly traffic schedule is followed before it is too late.
The security establishment must immediately look into the grievances of the general public and address them amicably to avoid any kind of friction between the civilian population and the forces.
That said, I have to admit that the general public in Kashmir has little regard for the traffic rules. Wearing a seatbelt is seen as insulting. Hundreds of motorbikes ply on the roads without registration plates or helmets. The culture of rash driving and performing stunts is normal in Kashmir.
The security forces need to minimize the inconvenience caused to the general public. At the same time, the people are also morally and legally duty bound to obey the traffic rules. This balance must be maintained.