Air travel for para-military forces

One of the security measures, among others to thwart and nip terrorists’ planning to attack treacherously and cause harm to the para-military forces on duty in Kashmir valley, is the decision of allowing air travel to all ranks. It is, therefore tantamount to ensuring convoy movements were kept to the bare possible minimum. The decision having come, as is well known, in the wake of gruesome attack on the personnel of CRPF travelling by buses in a convoy from Jammu to Srinagar on February 14. It is no fun or any occasion in asking as to why such a decision was taken only after the savage attack, as never before, in ordinary course of business or otherwise, air travel to all ranks of para- military personnel had been allowed during the currency of the militancy and disturbed conditions in the valley of Kashmir all these thirty years.
It is a welcome step even if taken belatedly as it would definitely go in upping the already high morale of our brave para- military jawans on duty in militancy infested Kashmir. The four routes for which air travel entitlement has been sanctioned are Delhi-Srinagar, Srinagar-Delhi, Jammu-Srinagar and Srinagar-Jammu. This commendable decision was going to benefit immediately as many as 7.8 lakh jawans of para- military forces in the ranks of Constable, Head Constable and Assistant Sub- Inspectors who were earlier not eligible to travel by air. The unprecedented outrage generated in the Indian masses across the country due to the inhuman act of Pulwama attack, had slew of suggestions and demands from the public as also from various patriotic organisations that the attack must be avenged at any cost and secondly to moot out the possibility of movement of the braves of the para- military forces to and fro Srinagar by air. While series of non military measures are underway towards avenging the martyrdom of the CRPF brave hearts, the heat of which the epicentre and sponsor of terror Pakistan has started feeling, allowing air travel to ranks from the ASI downwards has been duly sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
Counter terror operations are not that easy as looking on the face as compared to conventional combat and warfare to take on the enemy in regular operations. Here, the enemy keeps itself confined cowardly to hiding in a well fortified surroundings like a house, a building or some more advantageous position and hunting and challenging it by the forces to come out and surrender are usually fraught with many a risk as the challenge is from the open and vulnerable positions under no roof or any other similar advantage. It is another thing that the forces return from the operations only after their mission is a success and the militant is neutralised. Hence, extra care needs to taken towards ensuring the security forces were better placed in respect of personal facilities besides better and professional training, modern arms and advanced communication network.
Air travel sanctioned is not allowed only for official duties but covers a wide spectrum of entitlement like moving out for tour, proceeding on leave, transfer etc. Up till now, only officers were allowed this facility viz from ranks of Inspectors upwards. This facility is in addition to the existing air courier services for all para- military personnel that have been extended steadily in all sectors by the Home Ministry to help jawans cut down on travel time during their journey to and from home on leave. It is, however, to be noted that running convoys cannot be ruled out altogether but attempted to be kept minimum, based on unavoidable requirements.