SRINAGAR (Reuters) - India’s northern state of Jammu and Kashmir is to restrict civilian traffic on a main state highway for two days a week in a bid to ward off militant attacks on security convoys as a general election nears, state authorities said on Wednesday.
On Feb. 14, 40 Indian security personnel were killed when a suicide bomber from a Pakistan-based militant group attacked a security convoy at Pulwama in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
The attack has heightened tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, each of which sent warplanes to attack the other’s territory after the attack.
Civilian traffic will be banned from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m on Sunday and Wednesday each week until May 31 to allow for exclusive movement of security convoys.
India’s staggered election begins on April 11 and ends on May 19.
The prohibition will apply between Baramulla region and Udhampur, covering most of the 350-km (217-mile) Srinagar-Jammu highway, which passes through the state’s major towns.
The highway is the main artery connecting disputed Kashmir to the rest of India.
The decision was taken “keeping in view the large movement of security forces on the national highway during the parliamentary elections and associated possibility of any fidayeen terror attack on security forces’ convoys”, the statement said.
Fidayeen is a term used to describe Islamist militants engaged in suicide missions.
Writing by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Kevin Liffey