Undeclared restrictions create chaos and confusion in city centre

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SRINAGAR: Normal life here in Maisuma and its adjacent areas including city centre Lal Chowk was thrown almost out of gear because of choas, confusion and traffic jams for hours due to undeclared restrictions on the movement of vehicles and people as authorities in a bid to foil protest march in Lal Chowk had sealed Ghanta Ghar from all the sides on Wednesday.

Lal chowk was cordoned off by CRPF men and police early Wednesday morning. All roads leading to the historic Ghanta Ghar were sealed off by CRPF and police with spools of barbed wire and barricades. The forces also kept a close watch in and around Maisuma by sealing the entry and exit points with Israeli made concertina wires.

Shopkeepers from Regal Chowk to Amira Kadal were not allowed to open up their shops and government forces chased them away after they tried to move towards Lal Chowk. Bikers and motorists as well as journalists assembled near Regal Chowk in large numbers after they were stopped from advancing towards city centre. “I was supposed to attend my office at Press Enclave but was denied permission. Like me others too waited for hours near Regal Chowk where policemen on duty were waiting for the orders from their superiors. Finally journalists were allowed after they contacted a top police official,” a scribe working for a Daily newspaper told CNS adding that this was an unnecessary harassment.

“Police have been suffering from protest ‘phobia’ and in the name of protest it has been giving tough time to the businessmen and other peace loving people. Authorities have become habitual of creating problems for the common people. I came from Old City to open up my shop but here I was stopped and forced to return back. The police action and decision is unwarranted,” said a trader.

The decision of authorities to seal historic Lal Chowk gave tough time to the common people. A large number of police personnel and traffic officials were seen diverting traffic through other routes, leading to major traffic jams on busy Dalgate, Sonawar, Tourist Reception Centre (TRC), Moulana Azad road and Regal chowk. Hundreds of vehicles remained stranded on these routes despite the traffic officials trying to regulate the traffic. Not a single vehicle was allowed to pass through Lal Chowk.

A police official told CNS that restrictions on the movement of people and vehicles in Lal Chowk were imposed to foil the protest march called by separatist groups. (CNS)

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