Top security officials Thursday claimed that the controversial decision to ban civilian traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway for two days a week has been taken to “prevent repeat of Lethpora-type militant attacks and to avoid any confrontation with civilians”.
An order issued by the state home department Wednesday said there would be no civilian traffic movement on the highway from 4am to 5pm on Sunday and Wednesday (every week) till May 31 “owing to possibility of a fidayeen attack on forces’ vehicles”.
A senior security official, who wished not to be quoted by name, claimed that they had “inputs” about “possible” Lethpora-type strike by militants on forces’ convoys moving along the Srinagar-Jammu highway.
“Even though air travel for forces personnel stands approved, it won’t be possible to ferry a large number of forces personnel by air in view of the upcoming general elections in the state,” the official said.
“So”, the official said, “the road travel can’t be done away with as forces deployment is part of elections. Since the Srinagar-Jammu highway is the only surface link connecting Valley with rest of the world, precautions are inevitable and need of the hour”.
He said another reason why civilian traffic has been barred is the “recent abortive bid by a private vehicle driver in Banihal who was driving his car towards a CRPF convoy vehicle”.
“The CRPF men travelling in the vehicle were lucky enough as the driver who jumped from the vehicle failed to blow up his vehicle that was laden with a live IED and gelatin sticks and petrol bottles,” the official said.
Another official claimed that barring civilian traffic movement on the highway for convoy movement was “purely a safety measure”.
“We don’t want to enter into any altercation with the civilian population on the highway which always remains busy,” he said.
As per the existing convoy plan, all civilian vehicles are being halted till smooth passage of forces’ vehicles on the highway and other roads.