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Army blows myth of separatists: Highway traffic smooth

Army blows myth of separatists: Highway traffic smooth

Author: Pioneer News Service
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: August 13, 2008

The 300-km long national highway linking Jammu with Srinagar and the lifeline for people living in the Kashmir Valley has been cleared of all disruptions by the Army from August 4 onwards to help movement of goods to and fro from the Valley in the backdrop of the ongoing Amarnath shrine land agitation.

The all-party delegation, which visited Srinagar over the weekend, was also informed by the State Government that there was no economic blockade on the national highway and trucks were moving without hindrance

Elaborating on the efforts undertaken by the Army, an official spokesman on Tuesday said the Army escorted a total of 10,389 vehicles on the National Highway-1A, the only surface link between the Kashmir valley and the rest of the country, over the past eight days since troops were deployed on the highway on August 4.

He said the Army was deployed on Jammu-Pathankot and Jammu-Srinagar highways to ensure smooth movement of trucks, including petrol tankers, carrying essential supplies to the Kashmir valley and other parts of the State and fruits, especially apples, from Srinagar to other States.

Giving a break-up of the number of vehicles escorted, he said 2,263 loaded trucks, 487 empty trucks, 764 buses, 97 oil tankers, 58 Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder-carrying trucks and 1,212 light vehicles from Jammu to Srinagar were safely escorted.

The traffic from Srinagar to other parts of the country included 1,743 loaded trucks, 460 empty trucks, 961 buses, 164 oil tankers, 22 LPG and 2,165 light vehicles, he said, adding the sincere and constant work of the Army under a tense situation ensured movement of regular supplies on the national highway.

Meanwhile, the State Government briefed the all-party delegation, which visited the Valley recently, that there was no economic blockade and there were sufficient number of trucks available in the Valley to transport fruits to other parts of the country.
"It came to our notice that there were 30 truck loads of fruits available in the Kashmir market for transportation. The administration made available 90 trucks to the local vendors. But they did not use it under fears from separatists," a member of the delegation told The Pioneer.

People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti and some Hurriyat leaders had reportedly asked local traders to march towards Muzaffarabad (in PoK) with their produce (fruits).

The initial disruption in the traffic, sources pointed out, was mainly because truck drivers from Punjab, a few of whom were beaten up when they entered the valley, refused to operate.

It is reported that Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal immediately spoke to them and the situation turned normal.

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