SRINAGAR: The Army is not restricting its convoy movements on the highway from Baramulla to Udhampur to only Wednesday and Sunday, the two days a week till May 31 that the highway has been earmarked by the state government for the exclusive use of the security forces, because it would affect their operations.

Army convoys were seen plying in the Kashmir valley on Monday. Army officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the order would hamper Army operations. The officers claimed there were no (formal) consultations with the Army before the order was issued. “During informal talks, it was made clear to the state officials that such an order was not possible to implement,” an officer engaged in convoy movements told PTI on Monday.

Former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah posted a video of an Army convoy on the move on Monday while civilian traffic plied normally on the other side of the road. “Here’s another full strength convoy. I’m simply trying to highlight the point that the architects of the highway closure have made no application of mind. Somehow this convoy on the highway is safe today but it wouldn’t have been yesterday (Sunday) and won’t be on Wednesday,” Omar Abdullah tweeted.

“If it is safe for SF convoys to move on Monday WITHOUT closing the highway to civilian traffic, why is it not safe on Wednesdays & Sundays? Nothing proves the mindlessness of the order more than army movement on ‘unsafe’ days. This road is part of the highway by the way,” the National Conference leader added.

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir high court sought a response by Tuesday from the state government on petitions against the closure of the highway from Baramulla to Udhampur for two days a week.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Geeta Mital and Justice Tashi Rabastan issued the notice which was accepted by the senior additional advocate general to the government. “The government was directed to come with alternate arrangements and other suggestions by tomorrow.”

The petitions have been filed by a lawyer, Mir Shafaqat Nazir, and Shah Faesal, the former IAS officer who floated a political party earlier this year. Both are seeking the quashing of the state home department’s April 3 order.

“The (principal secretary to the government), home department, civil secretariat, has issued an arbitrary and capricious order dated 03.04.2019 in terms whereof two dedicated days in a week, viz. Wednesday and Sunday, have been kept for movement of security forces’ convoys, when there would be no civilian traffic on the highway from Baramulla through Srinagar, Qazigund, Jawahar Tunnel, Banihal to Ramban till Udhampur from 4 am to 5 pm,” Shafaqat submits in the petition.

“The order is illegal and unconstitutional having been issued in violation of the rights guaranteed to the petitioner under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution,” he said.

Shafaqat said that under CrPC Section 144, only an executive magistrate can place restrictions on the movement of people in urgent cases of apprehended danger, etc.

“(Principal secretary to the government, home) has no power or authority to pass an order placing restrictions over the movement of people. The impugned order is as such non est in the eyes of the law and deserves to be quashed,” he said.

Shah Faesal has termed the ban a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. Faesal’s PIL is being rued by advocate Tasaduk Khuwaja and senior Supreme Court advocate Ehsan Javed, along with some other advocates.