The 84-kilometres Mughal Road, an alternate to Jammu-Srinagar highway, has remained shut for civilian traffic for the last three years with no explanation provided by the administration.
The road, which links Shopian district in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch districts in Jammu region, is a summer alternative to Jammu-Srinagar highway and cuts several hours of travel time.
A senior official in the administration, who requested not to be named, said it is the “government’s decision” to shut the road. The official did not elaborate further.
The authorities have so far not cited any reasons for disallowing the civilian traffic on the road even as the Mughal Road is listed as a tourist destination on the official websites of Shopian and Poonch districts.
Mughal Road has a historic significance as it was used by the Mughal kings for their travel into Kashmir valley. It remains shut during the winter and the snow clearance this year was completed in April’s first week.
The construction of the road was started in 2005 and was opened for light vehicles in August 2012.
Guftar Ahmad Chowdhary, a political activist and a spokesperson of the Gujjar and Bakerwal Youth Welfare Conference, said that the road hasn’t been opened ever since the abrogation of Article 370.
“It is the biggest harassment for the people of Pir Panjal. If they have made this road, it should be made functional for the general public. Either close it permanently or open it,” he said.
The authorities had earlier this month said that the road would be opened for limited use of transportation of fruit trucks and the movement of Gujjar-Bakarwals migratory community. However no order regarding the general traffic on the Mughal road has been issued.
The demand for the opening of Mughal Road has also echoed by the political parties of the region.
Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari on 5 May demanded an immediate opening of the Mughal Road for use by the general public.
“The people of Pir Panjal region lack tertiary care health facilities due to which they travel to Kashmir valley for getting their sick admitted into the local hospitals. Allowing only influential people to travel on Mughal road is sheer discrimination with the general public,” Bukhari had said.