Srinagar: Recent assurances by government authorities to exempt vehicles of educational institutions from the ban on civilian vehicles on the national highway have fallen flat, with staff and students travelling in the buses saying they were “stopped throughout the week, not to talk of the ban days”.
Two days after Governor SP Malik’s state administration banned civilian vehicles on the highway on Wednesdays and Sundays on April 3, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan assured at a joint press conference with Kashmir IGP SP Pani that vehicles of schools, colleges, government employees and other “essential services” would be exempted from the ban.
Justifying the highway ban, Khan said that government had decided to put restrictions two days a week “so that traffic plies normally on other days”.
On the highway, however, buses of educational institutions are being stopped by government forces even on days when there is no ban.
Assurances given by the Divisional Commissioner have been merely a “media management” exercise, which “have no substance”, Chairman of Private Schools Association J&K, GN Var, said.
Apart from verbal assurances, Var said, no formal order to exempt school and college buses had been issued till date.
“If they can bring a ban order, why not issue an order exempting us from the ban, so that we can show it on the ban days?” he asked.
“This is just eyewash and media management by the army,” he added.
The school buses are being stopped “even on normal days,” Var alleged.
He said there had been a “crisis” at schools and colleges with academic work severely hit since the highway ban.
“I think we are not going to be able to teach anything this academic session. I don’t think we will be able to teach even for the average 120 working days,” he rued.
While the students and teachers travelling in school buses get late to classes due to the curbs, those who travel on their own don’t make it to the classes, Var added.
Echoing Var, a faculty member at the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) told Kashmir Reader that the varsity buses were stopped “irrespective of the ban days”.
Last Friday, when there was no ban, the faculty member said that they were stopped for several minutes near Barsoo area of Awantipora to make way for an army convoy
“And it is gets compounded on the way. It was quarter to nine and we were supposed to reach the university by 9,” added the teacher.
“The schedule is not applied. If there is a problem with the implementation of the order, then why do they issue them? It shows the indecisiveness on part of the administration,” the teacher said
Calling the highway ban a “big nuisance”, the teacher said that the government was “only creating confusion” through it.
At Badami Bagh cantonment, Sonwar, “it is routine for the forces to stop civilian traffic” on normal days, the teacher added.