Invalidate forthwith National Highway restrictions

We have been criticising from day one of the pronouncement of State Government’s order of restricting civilian vehicular movement twice a week on Jammu – Srinagar National Highway, citing cogent reasons . The provision of keeping emergency and unavoidable civilian movement out of the purview of the restrictions too, was contested by us on the ground that getting due permission from the concerned authorities would entail enough strain on time, energy and getting prompt audience from the designated authorities. The recent incident of allegedly subjecting an ambulance carrying a patient suffering from the world’s most dreaded disease to repeated stoppages and verifications, has vindicated our fears. Had our timely conveyed suggestions been given a serious thought and consequently either rolled back the order or made movement of civilian vehicles of critical nature like ambulances smooth and hassles free, the patient though reported to have been precariously critical, would have not passed away en-route and in an ambulance.
We, however, do not vouch for the nitty- gritty of the incident pending confirmed details but at the same time, do not rule out the tendency of the security forces, many a time, indulging in too much of verifications and establishing of identities and so on which, on some occasion could have the fallout of boomeranging into an awkward position. Hence, we do not approve of such an approach by those in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, who stopped intermittently this vehicle without any rhyme or reason, once the bona- fides were established at more than one point. At Lower Manda, the vehicle is alleged to have been stopped for nearly thirty minutes while each minute was crucial for the treatment of the patient. Agreed, the authorities of the CRPF have ordered a probe into the entire incident but that does neither lessen the impact of such an unwise order on various areas concerning the public interest like the one under reference, nor builds up a case for its continuance. We, however, would never advise or even think of remotely, to slacken or dilute the provisions of ensuring foolproof security and safety of our security forces whether during convoy movement or whilst performing their duties.
If the statement of the driver of the ambulance is having no scope of any contradiction or deviation from the actual facts, the patient breathed his last at Batote, say midway between the two capital cities of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and that is unfortunate. Pending rescinding of the restrictions on the National Highway, we urge the authorities to ensure that not only was permission quickly given in such cases to ply on the Highway but doubly ensure their speedy passage to reach their destinations.
Meanwhile, in another unfortunate incident, an FIR is reported to have been registered by the Police against the Army in an alleged thrashing in South Kashmir’s Qazigund area, of some officials and a Sub Divisional Magistrate who has alleged that he was manhandled and abused by some personnel of the army as he was trying to ‘rescue’ his driver from their ‘assault’ on Srinagar Jammu Highway. Incidents like the one under reference fall under the category of highhandedness, though rare, in the name of ensuring security and safety measures which must be avoided at all costs.