Syed Kaleem Geelani

Army convoys- can we have some discipline?

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The newly constructed four lane highway from Srinagar to Qazigund had come as a great respite for travelers as it had reduced the time taken for the same distance by a great deal. But the same highway seems gradually becoming less useful for common people and more for convoys of army, CRPF and other forces which have the utmost liberty of movement and can announce a halt for the civil traffic at any instance.

While ministers, MLA’s & bureaucrats are given safe passage to pass through the army vehicles, the local transport however has to remain stranded for hours together and wait till the orders come. The long halts sometimes make one question whether the National Highway is maintained by traffic department or the army!

Now, the highway isn’t only taken by those passenger vehicles that are coming from Jammu but locals of South Kashmir- students, employees, laborers etc all, also opt for the same route to reach to the city. But given the unregulated army movement, all suffer equally. Be it students or even patients, civilians have to wait once stuck around an army convoy and one can only imagine the pathetic condition people have to bear for none of their faults.

The authorities must realize that there should be a proper management and a proper plan for the passage of Army & CRPF vehicles during any day and the timings arrived at should be adhered to, except in case of any emergency. The authorities will also have to take into consideration the peak timings, particularly school and colleges timings and see if they could manage a halt-free travel so that no student loses precious time and reach his/her destination on time. It is also mandatory to take strong note of the ill and the ailing and such people should never be made to wait and given a safe passage to travel ahead.

A specific time should be fixed for the convoy so that the public transport is not left to suffer massive halts and if they (forces) want to avoid the interference of local vehicles in between, timings must be fixed in such a way so as to ensure that no such thing happens and neither should the masses suffer at any cost.

In order to make the National Highway a truly ‘People Friendly and Forces Friendly Zone’ the authorities will have to chalk out a detailed plan keeping in view all the considerations and all the consequences and make the highway an asset for all. While it is important to ensure the greater good of the public in any welfare state, one cannot also ignore the reality of this place where thousands and thousands of army personnels have to make a movement each day!

But having said this, it is the responsibility of the concerned department to arrive at a cohesive plan that caters to the needs of the masses as well as the forces. The department has to show some dedication, some vision and some planning if it wants the highway to serve all.

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