Highway closure: It will kill our businesses, say traders; ‘unsure what to do’ say students, patients

After the Govt announced that the highway will be closed for civilians for two days a week for prioritising army convoys, those involved in trade, education and emergency services say they cannot bear the brunt

Srinagar: The business community from the Kashmir valley says it is taken aback by the government’s decision to shut down the National Highway (NH) in Jammu and Kashmir twice a week to facilitate movement of Indian Armed Forces.

The decision has received condemnation from civilians who ought to travel via the 270 kilometre long NH on a daily basis, and by the traders who suffer due to closure of the road connecting the valley to Jammu and mainland India during the winters.

According to the the government, the NH shall remain closed for two days i.e., Sundays and Wednesdays, in a week from 4 am to 5 pm. It is pertinent to mention that civilians including critical patients, students and employees use the NH to commute on a daily basis.

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Speaking to Free Press Kashmir, the leadership for the business community which comprises of around 5 Lakh traders from the valley, said that they are of the opinion that the closure of NH for two days will have severe ramifications on their business.

“For two days, no one will be able to do any business. The NH is a lifeline for our trade. We already face issues in winters. Now, the addition of these two days weekly will cause losses and affect our trade,” says Aijaz Ahmad, Publicity Chief of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation.

“In winter, for around 2 months, the road was closed. Imagine how that must have affected us. More than 60 per cent of our business will be killed,” he says adding it will also cause issues for the local commuters. Calling it a politically motivated move, the Federation is planning to approach the authorities and condemn it in every way possible.

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Moreover, the netizens and residents of the valley are also not in favour of the resolution.

“What if someone dies or has to be taken to the hospital? How will I travel to my office if I have to go to a meeting? Who will compensate me and who will justify it to the office? Or is it that they will declare more holidays? This is disgusting and very inconvenient to masses,” says a commuter who works in New Delhi and uses the NH regularly for commuting.

It is unclear as of now how patients, who use the highway to reach speciality hospitals in Srinagar, and students who use the road to reach their institutes are going to bear this out.

Many political leaders including National Conference’s Omar Abdullah, and Beurocrat turned politician Shah Faesal have condemned the decision. Omar Abdullah has called it “a glaring admission of failure to manage the internal security of J&K”.


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