Kashmir highway witness night rush of vehicles to avoid day protests

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To avoid day travel for security reasons, authorities allowed night traffic when there is calm on the national Highway connecting the Kashmir valley with the rest of the country.

All vehicles, including those carrying Amarnath pilgrims, which left Jammu in the afternoon yesterday, arrived in the Kashmir valley early in the morning, official sources told UNI. They said there is no restriction on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway which is officially through but people avoid travel during the day because of tense situation due to protests, particularly in south Kashmir during the past few days.

The highway remained almost deserted during the day, particularly from Banihal to Srinagar though some local vehicles are plying from Banihal to Jammu, they said. As large number of Amarnath pilgrims got stranded at Jammu and Baltal and Nunwan Pahalgam base camps when traffic on the highway was suspended for security reasons from July 10, a day after death of top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) Burhan Wani and two other militants in an encounter with security forces in Anantnag.

However, it was later decided to allow night travel instead of day on the highway. All the stranded pilgrims at Jammu and Baltal and Nunwan Pahalgam base camps have been cleared. Sources said yesterday afternoon large number of vehicles, including those carrying Amarnath pilgrims left Jammu for Baltal and Pahalgam base camps. Entire machinery, including traffic police personnel were on their toes and all the vehicles were cleared by 0500 hrs this morning.

Similarly, vehicles carrying pilgrims, who had returned after paying obeisance at the cave shrine also left base camps for Jammu early in the morning. These vehicles have crossed the Jawahar tunnel and are on way to Jammu. Sources said people also avoid travel during the day on historic Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region.

Meanwhile, large number of trucks, including those carrying essentials for Kashmir valley are stranded at different places on other side of the tunnel.

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