Convoy timings changed, size reduced: GOC
Srinagar Apr 15: Army on Sunday said that demands of the situation have brought the humane face of the army to fore. It claimed changing convoy timings and reducing their size have been some of the steps it has taken to bridge the gap between people and soldiers while recognizing the realities of the situation.
The General Officer Commanding of Srinagar based Chinar Corps, Lieutenant General S A Hasnain while talking to Greater Kashmir said that many steps have been taken in the recent past to ensure that the gap between the army and common people is narrowed down. “One of the significant steps we have taken is that we have reduced the size of the army convoys and have ensured that these don’t hit the roads at peak hours,” he said. “This has been done to ensure that no inconvenience is caused to people.”
Asked why such steps were not taken in the past, the GOC said, “Army has always tried its best to be people friendly but due to high violence levels and frequent encounters in the past this may not have been possible.”
He said attacks on army convoys since 2007 have decreased gradually. “Number of attacks declining encouraged us to change the convoy timings and reduce its size,” the GOC added.
Elaborating further, the GOC said that the Army operates its convoys to Leh and Kargil, Kupwara, Baramula, Uri, Gulmarg and Bandipora. It also has the largest convoys coming and going to Jammu. The intent is to have the convoys leave at the earliest in the morning in an organized manner and also that no convoy leaves after 8.30 AM. This self imposed limitation is such that it ensures that there is no clash with the peak hour office bound traffic at Shalteng and Pantha Chowk, the two main traffic congestion points. In a similar manner the after convoys which come in to Srinagar, have to cross the congestion points before 5.00 PM or be deliberately delayed beyond 6.30 PM if they are late.
Lt Gen Hasnain said that soldiers have been asked to adopt defensive measures to ensure security and completely shun all their aggressive gestures which are considered undignified. “There is a zero tolerance level for such unnecessary aggressiveness towards the public; you don’t see LMG fixed atop any convoy vehicle except for some very high profile security convoy, neither due you see soldiers carrying batons and sticks in their hands. Strict directions have been passed to them to even avoid pointing fingers towards people and shining headlights by day,” he said.
He said that new soldiers and officers who arrive in the Valley have to undergo a vigorous training at Corps Battle School here before hitting the field. “Soldiers are made aware about the difficulties they are likely to face in the field but more importantly they are also educated about the culture of the people, their sensitivities and the environment they are going to work in,” the GOC said, “The new concept that we have asked our soldiers is to follow is generically named Ji Jinab a term which is reflective of Kashmir's basic culture of enlightened refinement and politeness . We have asked them to be polite with the people while carrying out the frisking and searches.”
Lt Gen Hasnain said when he took over as the GOC Chinar Corps he held discussions with various members of the civil society and he realized that army convoys moving during the peak hours cause lot of antipathy. “Running the multiple convoys is inevitable as army has got its own compulsions but we found ways and means to reduce animosity. I don’t claim that I have achieved 100 per cent but we’ve succeeded to some extent. We have made soldiers more sensitive towards the concerns of common people,” he said.
The GOC said that times have changed and the “hardness” which may have been required 10-yrs ago is not needed anymore. “Being hard and insensitive leads to animosity,” he said. “The convoy which leaves Srinagar in the morning for Baramulla takes two hours to reach there. The speed limit for army convoys has been fixed at not more than 40 km/ph and you can now see large signboards for Army drivers warning them to slow down.”
The Officer Commanding R-Centre B B cantonment while talking to Greater Kashmir said, “Before any convoy leaves drivers and co-drivers are briefed about the speed limit. Soldiers are briefed about the decorum they need to maintain and protection team is given a briefing about how they have to react in case of any eventuality.”
The officer said that they have passed clear cut instructions to the drivers that there should be no “aggressive driving.” “Defensive driving and maintaining speed limit minimizes the chances of accidents,” he added.
He dispelled the notion that civilian vehicles cannot overtake an army convoy. “No one stops civilian vehicles from overtaking the convoys. It is a misconception people have. It is not possible for civilian vehicles to move behind the convoy,” he added.
The officer said the officers of 31 Sub-Area remain in touch with the convoy commanders of each convoy which leave Badami Bagh Cantonment. “We keep on monitoring their movement till convoys arrive at their respective destinations,” he added.
A senior officer said that overall improvement in the ground situation across the Valley during past few years has given some “breathing space to the Army.” “Earlier soldiers used to have it in mind that they could be attacked anywhere now they know that chances of possible attacks have declined,” he said. "Yet there is no let up in security of convoys as we all realize that these are large targets and militants can gain much mileage by a successful strike but it does not demand that we unnecessarily inconvenience the public or be impolite to them", said another officer.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 15 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 15 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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