NH-44 lockdown triples people’s miseries in Kashmir Highway closure and heart attacks

Working in orchards on Sundays was a routine work for Altaf Ahmad—however the last Sunday was different and daunting.
Altaf- a resident of Pattan didn’t knew that he has to risk his life to see a relative in one of the border villages of Uri—who suffered massive heart attack on the first day of highway ban.
Amid highway ban, Altaf has to rush to the place covering almost 100Kms through difficult terrain. “I have only one paternal uncle, who lives in Uri. He had a stroke on Sunday afternoon. The moment, we heard that he is not feeling well. I along with my family planned to visit him but we had to find alternatives to reach there, “he said.
After leaving from Pattan, Ahmad’s painful journey started as no civilian vehicle was allowed to move on highway. He said the journey usually takes one and half hour but due to highway ban, it took them three hours to reach the destination that too risking their lives.
“We usually take Pattan-Baramulla highway, but on Sunday we have to reach Chandoosa area of Kalantra through Heevan to reach Sheeri area of Baramulla first. The road is bumpy and traversers through mountains and pine trees and then we have to cross highway in between and from there we have to again take difficult route to reach our destination,” he said. Ahmad said it was nothing less than a nightmare for him and for his whole family.
Like Ahmad, scores of families have to face similar problems due to the highway closure diktat.
Throughout the stretch from Baramulla to Udhampur, heavy security was deployed on Sunday. Like north Kashmir, the situation in south Kashmir was worse as no civilian traffic was plying on roads considering the volatile situation there.
Pertinently the highway, described as lifeline of the Kashmir region, crisscrosses through five districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Srinagar, Budgam and Baramulla. The impact was visible all along the Srinagar stretch of the highway, from the bypass to Qawarwari Chowk, as people of all ages were seen walking on foot to their destinations. Scores of passengers across Kashmir, including patients who need to reach hospitals in the city, were stuck in the highway lockdown. Hundreds of villages, from Anantnag to Baramulla, are located beside the highway. While there was thin traffic movement on the Srinagar highway, local reports said the route was completely deserted in southern Kashmir, people shut inside their homes.
For Khalida Mushtaq, a resident of Shopian, visiting doctor in Srinagar on Sunday was must as she is pregnant. “I had to see a private doctor there but due to highway ban I couldn’t,” she said.
Mushtaq said, when everything goes wrong, it goes completely. “I had a very bad day on Sunday. I was fine till Sunday morning. But I suddenly felt a heavy head. I was feeling restless and I also felt like the movement of my baby inside my womb stopped. My parents were worried. So we decided to visit the hospital for the check up,” she said.
Mushtaq requested the government to revoke the highway ban as it is only creating trouble for the people. “I thought that I will die. My condition was very bad and the highway ban further stressed me. This ban is a big problem, especially for people like me, “she said.