To 'avoid direct contact with the protestors', the Army in Kashmir has changed the convoy timings and the vehicles hit roads in the dead of night while senior officers prefer to take aerial route to reach their destinations.
Sources in the Army said the decision to change the convoy timings came in the wake of protests in Kashmir, especially on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway since July 8 against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
With Anantnag district as the epicenter of protests, at least 50 civilians have been killed in forces' action while over 3000 got injured in the 18 days of unrest.
"Our convoys move in the night after 12 am. The move is to avoid contact with the protestors. Our men don't carry pellet guns or tear gas shells. We have only bullets to respond with and we don't want any confrontation with the protestors," a senior Army official said adding that the civilian protestors "are our own people."
"We don't want to hurt the young boys who hit the streets. To avoid direct contact with the protestors, we have decided nocturnal convoy movement after proper clearance by the Road Opening Parties of the Army," the official said.
Sources in the Army said that Srinagar-Jammu Highway witnesses Army convoy movement every day except holidays particularly festivals.
"The senior Army officials always take aerial route as they have a vast area to cover. Recently, when Army Chief General Dalbir Singh visited Army's Srinagar-based 15 Corps headquarters, he took the aerial route to go back. He was accompanied by Northern Army commander Lt General D S Hooda," sources said. "Similarly, when GoC 15 Corps Lt General Satish Dua has to reach to a particular destination, he takes aerial route most of the times just to be on time. Some other officers of the Army also take aerial route, if they are supposed to accompany the GoC."
"A direction has been also passed on to the patrolling parties to stay away from the troubled areas. The normal patrolling of the Army has got affected due to law and order disturbances in Kashmir," Army sources said.
The Army convoys come from north Kashmir districts including Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora to Srinagar almost every day. "Some convoys leave Srinagar for out-of-State journey almost daily while others come in from Udhampur headquarters as well," sources said.
Army officials said that once the situation comes back to normal, the convoy timings will be rescheduled again. "We had to change the convoy timings in 2010 also," they said.