The Indian government on Wednesday passed an order banning civilian traffic from plying the main highway in Jammu and Kashmir twice a week, when it will only be used by the armed forces, ONA reports citing Anadolu Agency.
“Keeping in view the large movement of security forces on the national highway during parliamentary elections and associated possibility of any fidayeen terror attack on Security Forces’ Convoys, the State Government has notified specified days in a week for the movement of Security Forces from Srinagar to Jammu. During these days, no civilian traffic would be allowed on National Highway,” the order read.
These restrictions, according to the order, would remain in place until May 31.
The order comes in the backdrop of a suicide bombing in February along the same highway that killed at least 40 Indian troops, bringing New Delhi on the brink of war with nuclear-armed neighbor Pakistan.
The ban on civilian traffic came under criticism from pro-India politicians who called it a diktat of martial law.
“Last I checked, we were a democracy. But this sounds like a diktat of Martial Law. After bringing Kashmir to the brink, the administration is adamant on ensuring collective punishment for Kashmiris,” former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.
The order was also called discriminatory reflecting an apartheid mindset.
“This appears to be a tactic borrowed from the grotesque system of suppression and exclusion that Israel uses against Palestinians,” renowned Kashmiri author Mirza Waheed wrote on social media.