National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday held separate protest rallies and sit-ins against the government order restricting civilian traffic on the Baramulla-Udhampur national highway on Sundays and Wednesdays every week till May 31.Leading a protest march and a sit-in at Pantha Chowk near the highway, Mr. Abdullah termed the directive ‘Tughlaqi farmaan’. “There was no need to impose the restrictions along the highway. Kudos to Gen. Malik sahib for calling out the J&K highway closure order a dumb idea. The decisions in J&K today are being driven more by ego than by logic and it is vanity that is stopping this order from being withdrawn,” said the former Chief Minister.Mr. Abdullah also took objection to magistrates stamping the hands of civilians who were granted passes to ply on the highway in south Kashmir.“This is how permission is granted to people in J&K to use their highway. Their hands are being stamped and written on. Should we be flippant and mock the attempt at saving paper? I’m just angry at the degrading, inhuman treatment being meted out to people,” Mr. Abdullah tweeted.‘Bid to suppress people’Former Chief Minister Ms. Mufti, who led a protest rally near the highway on the city outskirts, termed the restriction a bid to “attack the State’s economy and an attempt to suppress people of J&K.”“I appeal to people to drive vehicles and defy the ban. Kashmir is not Israel-Palestine issue. If the government in Delhi wants to turn Kashmir into Israel-Palestine issue, then it should be ready itself for a Palestine-like situation,” she said.Ms. Mufti said her party had approached the court to address the issue.Exempted categoriesMeanwhile, the Governor’s administration has exempted lawyers, students, teachers and government employees from the restrictions. “Medical prescriptions will also be treated as a pass,” said an official.The highway ban was implemented in the wake of attack on a CRPF convoy on February 14 on the highway in Pulwama in which 40 jawans died.