Locals rue traffic jams, business losses due to Amarnath Yatra curbs

Srinagar, July 02 (KMS): People in Islamabad district of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir are facing massive traffic snarls and a slump in their business due to the stringent curbs imposed by the authorities on public movement in the name of security of Hindu pilgrims of Amarnath Yatra.

The Yatra is being conducted after more than two years following the spread of Covid-19. Before that, it was suspended midway in 2019 when Narendra Modi-led fascist Indian government repealed the special status of IIOJK and put it under military siege.

A senior police official on the condition of anonymity told the media that this is the first Yatra being conducted after the repeal of special status of the territory and unprecedented security measures have been made for the smooth conduct of the pilgrimage.

The security measures include an addition to the Indian forces’ personnel on the ground and hundreds of new bunkers. Most of these bunkers have come up along the Khannabal-Pahalgam (KP) Road in Islamabad.

Locals told the media that besides the overwhelming presence of Indian forces’ personnel, the curbs imposed before, after, and during the movement of vehicles carrying the pilgrims are affecting their movement and business badly. They said that even pedestrians are not allowed to move around amid the Yatra movement.

A video of an altercation between a pedestrian and an Indian paramilitary soldier also went viral. The man wanted to cross the road but was not allowed to do so.

There have been massive traffic snarls, as the Indian forces halt traffic on every possible road leading to the pathway of the Yatra movement. A doctor told the media that in the morning, it takes him almost one-and-a-half hour to reach Islamabad from Bijbehara while it usually takes him 20 minutes, at the most.

Apart from static bunkers, hundreds of mobile bunkers remain in place throughout the day. Shops and business establishments located along the KP Road, particularly between Khannabal and Mattan, have been badly hit. “For others, the ordeal lasts till the yatra vehicles pass by, but for us, it is the whole day,” some shopkeepers located in the area said.

They said that no vehicle is allowed to make a halt anywhere along the KP Road and no pedestrians are allowed to stop anywhere, as well. “It has badly affected our business. We have done almost no business since the Yatra started,” the shopkeepers said.

While most people complain in hushed tones, for the fear of reprisal, some are taking to social media to voice their disappointment.

Sharing a picture of a desolate KP Road, a Facebook user wrote, “KP Road has lost all its sheen. Once the jamboree and scintillating looking road is now presenting a gloomy and desolate picture. No more business left now.”

Another person shared a picture of a traffic halt on Srinagar-Jammu Highway and wrote, “Civilians should be given a separate highway for a smooth and uninterrupted drive. If loudspeakers can be an inconvenience to others, the same way a pilgrimage should not be a pain either.”

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